Monday, October 31, 2016

Spooky Time Of Year

It is October 31st - oh my! Time flies along with those ghosts and witches out tonight. The spookiness of this time of year has nothing to do with Halloween or upcoming elections even if both are kind of scary.

The scariness is planning for all that is coming up over the next month and a half. Right now we will deal with November, one day at a time. This week we are pulling things together for an Open Studio Art Sale, along with Household Yard Sale. The physical sale will be this Saturday, November 5th from 8:30 - 12:00ish at: 1002 Village Way N., Blacksburg, VA.

The Virtual Sale: on-line will be all month long "Art Off The Wall".  I will post a piece of work each day with details, size, medium, and original price. You can make me an offer plus $20.00 for Shipping if needed. More on this tomorrow.

Why are we doing this before the end of the year? Well, we are planning our move to AZ as full time residence. This of course does not mean we won't be back east. Plans are in the works for teaching workshops, coming back to VA Tech for sports events, to see friends and family.

I will continue to work on new pieces for upcoming shows. Did I mention there are several deadlines due this week? Here is one I worked on while I was in Alabama. A screech owl done in graphite, white pencil on coffee stained wood panel. In my head I see another owl on the second panel and somewhere down the line, the two owls together in color. I have the feeling the color piece may be next year.

Happy Halloween

Screech Owl graphite on coffee stained wood panel

Friday, October 28, 2016

One Mans Treasure

While I was in Alabama, my friend Cheryl took me to see "Paradise Gardens" created by Howard Finster (1915/16 - 2001). A self taught artist, a musician, and a man with a calling. Before we spoke of recycling or up-cycling Howard Finster was creating from found objects.

This space that is Paradise takes more than one visit. Buildings of art. not just buildings filled with art but the buildings are the art. Cement sculptures, mosaics, paintings, poetry within the pieces make up this place. Each step you take gives you a little more understanding of this man and his work.

Howard Finster was inspired, he was prolific producing thousands of works of art. He felt it was his calling to create and to minister, to share his works. He held services, he created music, he was a Renaissance man in the 20th century, called "the Picasso of folk artist". His works were included in the Venice Biennale, High Museum of Art, Atlanta and his works are included in Georgia's State Art Collection.

Where will your path take you? He took his path in many directions, which included the path, his walkways were mosaic creations made from anything you could possibly think of, mirrors, guns, bullets, railroad stakes, and much, much more...

Here are just a few pictures from his little piece of Paradise.

"My Father Drank Cokes Since The First"

Look closely at this path, those are shell casings.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sunny-Breezy Day Sitting By A Lake

Translates to Earth - Wind - Fire - Water, a quick description  of my recent trip to Alabama. On the way to stay with a friend at her cabin in the woods of Alabama. The road was block by the fire department. A fire and lots of smoke was on the road near her cabin. With a little luck and good friends we stayed at a house on the lake. The fire was contacted as a gentle breeze blew on the other side of the mountain. We could not stay at the cabin but did get a chance to check on it and watch the sun rise.

In the evenings, we sat by the lake watching the stars appear. The daytime temperatures were warm but you could smell autumn as the cool evening air rolled in with the tides. This time by the lake was relaxing, calming and creative. The gentle changing colors in the trees, the sun sets and sunrises reminds us of the importance in taking time to breathe, listen to nature and enjoy the moment.

Before sunrise

Waiting on stars

Lake view

Friday, October 21, 2016

It All Starts Here

My mornings are pretty routine, first thing, coffee. When and yes it is rare that I have left over coffee I make coffee stained paper. I do use the grounds too, so very little actual coffee is needed. Over the last couple of months with posting the different under-painting techniques I use with pastels I said I would blog about these techniques. So, this is how I make coffee stained paper. Which I am thinking may be part of today's demonstration at the Matrix Gallery 3:00 - 6:00.

It All Starts Here

Coffee Grounds still wet

Damped paper - Rives BFK, watercolor paper hot or cold surface, lay flat on surface marble counter, plexiglas, glass, non-absorbent. If needed place drawing newsprint under paper for protection. (Note: Bristol is not water loving and will curl, if both sides are wet first it will work okay)

Pour, or throw coffee grounds on paper

Add extra coffee as needed, less is more

Allow to dry, remove grounds, add them to your garden if you like and rinse lightly.

Allow to dry on flat surface. After it dries you may need to weight it down to flatten.
Coffee staining can be used for pastel, graphite, pen & ink. I have even used it on canvas with oil paints. I tried to coffee stain wood panels recently it stains the wood but does not give a nice spattered pattern.

Pastel on coffee stained paper. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Introduction To Reduction

Reductive or subtractive techniques in art will be our technical blog today. This process can be applied to painting, charcoal, pastel even sculpture.  I apply this technique to charcoal and pastel works. I have used this process in oil paintings and plan to do more of these next year.

When I teach pastel workshops I start with a charcoal study. Starting with the mid-tone, subtracting to create lights and adding the dark's. This helps with composition, seeing lights and shadows.

I work in a traditional style, dating back to the Renaissance, possibly older. My paper of choice is Rives BFK cotton rag. Start with finding the right side of the paper, the watermark is in a corner. Hold the paper to light, if you can read the letters correctly it is the right side. Use charcoal powder or vine charcoal to tone the paper. You can apply invisible gloves on your hands, wear rubber and white cloth gloves to protect your, use a soft brush or chamois cloth to blend a smooth background on the paper.

Use vine charcoal or charcoal pencil to loosely sketch in your subject. The kneaded eraser is used as a drawing tool. Remove gently charcoal from the lightest areas from the paper. Once you are happy with the lights, step back and look at the form that has been shaped by the light. The mid-tones and the lights are blocked in and ready to start working adding the dark's or colors.

This technique can be used in color. To see this live come by the Matrix Gallery Friday, Oct. 21st from 3:00 - 6:00 and see me do a demonstration. The finished feather is hanging at The Artful Lawyer.
Matrix Gallery 115 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA
The Artful Lawyer 138 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA

Toned paper, eraser and charcoal pencil 
Removing charcoal to expose the lights

Finished work, adding white and black charcoal pencils and a touch of pastel

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Colors Of Autumn

The leaves are slowly turning on the east coast. I suspect after this weekends drop in temperatures there will be a quick change. As the chlorophyll breaks down, the green makes way for red-yellow and orange. The shorter days, less sunlight, less moisture and cooler temperatures give trees the cues they need to hibernate for the winter. The fall is when they prepare and they put on one last show before they rest.

Virginia Tech Campus is especially beautiful in the fall. There are 4800 trees with 145 species, VA Tech (VT for short) has been awarded Tree Campus U.S.A. 7 years running by the Arbor Day Foundation. The school offers special degrees in Dendrology, the scientific study of trees. There are web sites and phone app's that will tell you what trees are on campus. I like to know what trees I use in my artwork and the nerd in me comes out. Yes, I do have the phone app and I have research using VT's guide to trees on line. I can't name all the trees but I am pretty good at researching to find out what that tree is for my reference files.

If you would like to see some of the trees I have painted this year, head over to the Matrix Gallery, 115 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA. I will be there this Friday, October, 21st from 3:00-6:00 doing a demonstration with pastels and answering questions. The gallery is open 7 days a week M-S 10:30 to 6:00 and Su 12:00 - 4:00. The show is up through October. You can also find some of my birds at the Artful Lawyer, 318 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA.


Inspired by Oak at Stadium Woods, 12 acres of 300+ year old trees

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Closer Look

Over the weekend I was down at Surfside Beach, S.C. As Rick and I walked the beach I was intrigued by the textures. Following the hurricane there are lots of shells on the beach, many of them broken, the dunes have been displaced and the ocean plays with the sand, creating patterns.

As usual I had my camera, and took a few photos...okay I took over 200 but under 300. It was one day shy of the full moon and I needed to have pictures of the moon rising over the ocean. The bonus was a nice sunset. I know I generally don't do a lot of landscape, seascape type painting but I do like to take photographs. I do print some of my photos out and frame them. They make me smile, remembering the moments, people and place of that trip.

I put together a little collage of some of the things I saw on the beach. Taking a closer look at the details, the textures. I could see myself at some point playing with a textured background and paint. Another project for another day.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Lines in between was my attempt to draw on a recent road trip. Usually I can draw while traveling. Yesterday was a bit of a challenge between shadows from the trees, bumps in the roads from bridges, rough roads and trying to draw on a surface with a grain (wood). I finally gave in and put the drawing aside. 

Today I plan to work on a new project, in a house or maybe on the beach. We shall see what the elements allow.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Too Many Options

Trying to pull supplies together for a relaxing weekend. I have too many options for projects right now. I started a screech owl on a cradled wood panel with graphite on a coffee stain. I have two of these panels and will do a red & gray screech owl on them in graphite with a touch of colored pencil and seal them. I have a third wood panel that I think will have both owls and maybe in color but not bringing that with me but it is sitting at the ready with reference pictures.

During the 30-30 I did a little graphite sketch of a bobcat. I have the paper mounted on my drawing board, full load of stick and pencil pastels. I am thinking this will be my Friday project. It most likely won't get finished but I have at least a half day to work.

Couple other thoughts running around my brain, I bought extra papers, sketch pads and photos to work on here and there. I am lucky if the roads are not too rough, I work in the car, when I am not driving of course. You can get a fair amount accomplished in moving vehicles.

Ready, set, here comes the weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


October has been full of opportunities. When opportunity knocks, you answer. This month I have work in 3 locations: The Historic Burwell-Morgan Art at the Mill show, Millwood, VA, The Matrix Gallery, Blacksburg, VA and The Artful Lawyer Gallery, Blacksburg, VA.

Wednesday night The Artful Lawyer will have a reception from 5:30 - 8:30 at 318 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA. This exhibit has a theme: Storytelling. As the song goes, every picture tells a story. Some of the stories will be about the piece, what inspired the series of work or the spiritual deeper meaning of the work. Come on by hear some of the stories.

This show will be up till mid-December, there will be additional artist talks, demonstrations and workshops. The Mill show is officially over the 16th but some works will remain till October 22nd. By then the leaves should be full of color. The Matrix Gallery will have a special reception and demonstration October 21st from 3:00 - 6:00, the show is up through October.

Come November there will be more opportunities....

Matrix Gallery "Autumn Light" pastel

The Artful Lawyer "Light As..." charcoal & pastel

Art at the Mill "Fibonacci 1" parrot oil 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Back To Back

The timing of the 30-30 ending was pretty good, I immediately went into framing work for all the art shows coming soon. Wednesday I took work over to the Matrix Gallery, 115 N. Market St., Blacksburg, VA. The opening reception is First Friday, Art Walk, October 7th from 5:00 - 7:00. Hope you can stop by and see all the new works.

Today, I am dropping off work to The Artful Lawyer also in Blacksburg, VA. They will do a reception later in the month.

Sunday, is the Artists Reception at the Burwell-Morgan Mill, Art at the Mill show in Millwood, VA. Rick & I will be there on Sunday 5:00 - 7:00 PM. This is the first year they have had an evening reception. It is worth the drive there, leaves are just turning, the drive is beautiful any time of year. Hope to see you there.

I did take a little time to do some sketching last night. Did try to prep a couple of boards for a project but one of them started peeling - guess I will just have to make another trip to the art supply store.

It is a busy fall, lots of art events going on in October and no slowing down in November. Here are a few images of what is at the Matrix Gallery and at Art at the Mill show.

"Autumn Light" pastel Matrix Gallery

"Breakfast Time" pastel on coffee stained paper Matrix Gallery

"American Kestrel" charcoal & pastel Matrix Gallery

Trees on view at Art at the Mill show

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Different Strokes

Now that the 30-30 is over I will address some of the questions that follow the challenge. How do you do that? Technique questions on what is Stippling, coffee stained papers, types of pastels/papers and are these works for sale?? Yes, most of the works are for sale. Some of them will be available at the Matrix Gallery, 115 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA this weekend.

I will try to answer the technical question over several blog posts. Today Stippling, the art of making little tiny dots all over the paper. I put together a little slide/film that runs through the process pretty quickly. Starting with the materials I used: India ink, pens (black and white), mixed medium paper (because it takes moisture from the ink wash) and I made a template of the pin oak leaves.

To begin with I take the photo reference into photoshop and create a B&W line drawing. I used this as the guide for the pencil sketch, pen outline and cut the drawing out to make a protect cover. Once the cover was secured to the pin oak leaves. I used a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of water and India ink, spraying it over the paper. Allow this to dry completely before trying to remove the protective shield.

Next I used the white gel type pens to start building up the background leaves. The 3 main pin oak leaves were left white because of the protective cover. I went into these leaves with black pens.

The final layer came with a 50/50 water to ink wash, brushed over the background to make it darker, allowing the leaves to pop out more. The whole process took 2 1/2 days. Doing the dots, I would work a couple hours, take an hour break to rest my hand and back at it late into the evening. I do not count the amount of hours I work on a piece but it was more than an 8 hour day.

If you have additional question please email me at: regarding either techniques or to purchase a special piece.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Next On The List

Now that the 30-30 has come to a close I will look over my To-Do's List. It will need to be updated and re-written, as all lists do, they change. Things hopefully move off the list and new things get added to the list.

I did finish the squirrel from Day 28 and will update the Album on FB. I have had some inquires on pieces from the 30-30, yes, I do sell the finished pieces. Some of the graphite works are in a small sketch book and I do not sell them. If you are interested in a special piece please email me at or message me through FaceBook.

Opening today is the Art at the Mill show at the Historic Burwell-Morgan Mill, Tannery Lane, Millwood, VA The Artists Reception is Sunday, Oct., 9th from 5:00 - 7:00. Rick and I will be at the reception this year. We hope you can stop in and see the show.

Wednesday, I head over to the Matrix Gallery to hang the show. Opening reception First Friday, October 7th from 5:00 - 7:00. There is a special scavenger hunt throughout the city, stop by and see if you can find "The Forest For The Trees"...

There will be a 2nd reception with demonstration October 21st from 3:00 - 6:00. You never know what might appear on the sidewalks - if the weather permits.

Matrix Gallery is located at 115 N. Main St., Blacksburg, VA Stop on in for your early holiday shopping.

That's enough for today but that does not mean that is all that is happening this fall, As always, more to come!
Fall Shows

Day 28 "Breakfast Time" pastel on coffee stained paper

Some of the works from September 30-30

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