Saturday, December 15, 2012

Drained, 36 x 60, oil on canvas

This lake at Keystone State Park was being drained, thus the title. It was also the last days of the glorious autumn and I wanted to use the water reflection to enhance the power of the morning light on the scene.

I did this painting last month after doing a couple small 9 x 12 paintings the day before. It allowed me to premix a batch of colors. So I drove to this location in Westmoreland County, got set up in the early morning darkness and waited for the race to begin. As the morning sun poked up I used every ounce of energy I had to get the paint on the canvas. The entire sky was painted using a palette knife. By about 11am I was 90% done. The finishing was completed in my studio later that evening from memory.

The most asked question I get is how long did it take you to paint that. Well, let's see. Does that include the several trips to the location 50 miles from my studio? Does it include the time spent painting the preliminary studies? Does it include the time stretching the canvas and preparing the ground on the canvas? Does it include the premixing of the colors the previous night? Does it include the 27 years I've been painting? It would be easy to say 5 hours, but that would be totally inaccurate. It is the accumulation of knowledge and skill that allows any artist to do what they do. The actual time of the performance doesn't take into account the hours of preparation. Ask any professional musician or athlete.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flatrock Autumn, 24 x 30 oil on canvas


This was done a couple weeks ago while visiting the mountains in Clinton County, PA. My two brothers were archery hunting and I was hunting for a nice spot to paint! Everyone was successful, even the huge bear that made off with part of a deer carcass.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Morning Light, 11 x 14, oil on panel

A simple house portrait painted in morning light. Someone stopped to give me a cold can of soda. That surprised me. A nice gesture from a total stranger can really lift your spirits while painting on location. I've had plenty of scary events as well over the years. One guy said he had me in his gun scope because he thought I was surveying his property.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Morning Walk, 9 x 12, oil on panel

This is typical of the alley ways near my house and studio. I've always liked them but only recently started doing an entire series of paintings. These new pieces get to the essence of city life. I especially enjoy describing the texture and shapes as they recede in the distance.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fuel Storage, 9 x 12, oil on panel

I just got back from the Plein Air Easton event. It was a pretty big deal with 58 painters from across the United States. Going in I didn't think it would be my "cup of tea". Well to put it mildly it was an amazing event. The caliber of work was extremely high and the artists were all very nice. It is a highly organized event and the folks that run it are determined to make the artists feel special. They did indeed. I won honorable mention for Fuel Storage. http://www.pleinaireaston.com/

The Eastern shore of Maryland is really all about the water. So why did I paint these tanks? I had just finished a painting of a boat when I noticed these tanks. Apparently not all water craft uses wind.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Contrast of City/Country, 6 x 8, oil on panel

I did these both on evenings last week. The top painting is the vista from my studio building's third floor. The bottom is the yard in Loretto. I grew up here and own the house with my twin brother. The contrast between my city studio and country home is great. The journey of 90 miles seems worth it every time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Seine Reflections, 8 x 10, oil on panel

Last year I finally got to Paris. While there I felt too overwhelmed to paint. I was recently asked to donate a painting to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and The Alliance Fran├žaise de Pittsburgh 5th Annual Bastille Day Celebration auction. So it was a good excuse to go through my photos and make this little sketch. And also reflect upon the trip, thus the title.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Porta Potties, 8 x 10, oil on panel

The Three Rivers Arts Festival is a big deal here in Pittsburgh. It is usually a rainy couple of weeks but not this year. Yesterday I gave a workshop to a few artists, one of which needed to be close to the porta potty. I thought, OK why not make that the subject of my demo? It was an excellent example of complementary colors, simple shapes, light and color families. A smart ass passerby told me it was a crappy painting. I have to admit it brought a smile to both of us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jona's Garden, 20 x 30, oil on canvas

Occasionally I'm commissioned to paint a backyard. This painting required several trips to Point Breeze to determine the exact timing of the sweet evening light. It is titled Jona's Garden. Notice BB the cat in the shadows to the lower left.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wires to Heaven, 16 x 20, oil on canvas

There was a time when wires were edited out from my cityscapes. I now include them because they show our time here in a historical context. These wires appear to extend right up to heaven – a direct line. Everything will be wireless soon and I'll miss all the linear clutter.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Garbage Cans, 24 x 30, oil on heavy linen

It is always fun to check out what people put out for trash, especially on bulk pickup day. I've done my share of dumpster diving. This alley is at the end of Smallman Street. I did another painting here in the middle of winter so this warmer version was a nice contrast.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rt 22 April Snow, 9 x 12, oil on panel

Last weekend we got about 7 inches of snow in Cambria County. That's pretty freakish for late April. On my way back to Pittsburgh I couldn't resist stopping to enjoy the subtle beauty of the lightly tinted landscape.

On another note, I'll be given a one-day workshop in Johnstown tomorrow at ARTWORKS, 814-535-2020

And this August 10 - 12 I'll be offering a 3-day workshop in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
http://redbarnarts.wordpress.com/home/workshops/

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fisk, 30 x 40, oil on linen

This one was a struggle to enlarge from a 9x12. I wanted to get the feeling of warm light at the last moments of the day. This location is just around the corner from my studio. The building that is barely visible at the back is the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville branch. It was one of his 2,811 free libraries, built in 1898.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fisk, 9 x 12, oil on panel

This little study is now being made into a 30 x 40. I'll post the completed larger piece later this week. My drawing group, which has been meeting for 26 years every other Monday night, gave meet a critique of this one. They mostly liked it. A few thought the sky could be a tad lighter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shearing Time, 16 x 20, oil on panel

A couple weeks ago I watched sheep being sheared. It is really wild. Something like a wrestling match with an animal. But the whole thing is done rather quickly. These pretty gals were in line for the spring trim. The light coming in from a nearby window was illuminating them in a soft  glow. And here comes the art lesson: when cool, blue light is the source the shadows are warm. In other words, the shadow areas are yellowish. Why? Well that is the next lesson. Just take my word for it and enjoy the sheep. Count them carefully and you will feel drowsy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Last Days of Steel, 50 x 68, oil on linen

This is the last painting I'm doing for the Johnstown exhibition. I titled it, Last Days of Steel because it was painted from rare film footage shot in the mill before it closed. It was a complete happenstance that I met Greg from The Magic Lantern. His small multimedia company is located about 200 feet from my studio. It was there I sat down with an editor and selected the frames that would be my source. The original painting is 4 x 6 feet, oil on linen. I'm having limited edition prints made for the Johnstown exhibition. Also due to increasing pressure I set up a business page on Facebook. Check it out if you are interested.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Staple Bend Tunnel, 9 x 12, oil on panel

Over the last 15 months I've done about 60 small plein air paintings of Johnstown. Most were done while standing next to my truck. This one required a bit more effort. It was a 2-mile walk from the parking area, which meant carrying my supplies 4 miles to do this. This tunnel, just 4 miles east of Johnstown, was the first railroad tunnel built in the United States. It was constructed between 1831-34 and is 900 feet long.
The exhibition, Scenes of Johnstown and Cambria County opens April 14.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Champagne Lane, 30 x 40, oil on canvas

I'm having an exhibition in Johnstown, April 14. It will feature about 65 paintings from the last 15 months. I think of it as a portrait of the rust belt city. The above painting is Luzerne Street, actually in Westmont. It is the last cathedral-arched boulevard left in the United States. There are 195 elms, the longest continuous stand of American Elms in the country, planted along the street. I call it Champagne Lane because, not only is a lovely street, an elm tree has a champagne glass shape to it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lights On, 8 x 10, oil on panel

On a walk the other night I noticed this scene, which is a little different for me. One of my favorite times of the day is when the sun goes down and there is still enough ambient light to see. It about this time some interior lights come on, giving spots of warmth to the overall darkened cool landscape. I painted it from a very grainy iphone pic and memory when I returned to my studio.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Behind Art's Tavern, 16 x 20, oil on canvas

I did this from a photo taken at a stop sign in the strip district. It was one of those things you see and say, wow look at the sunlight on that painted building. This is an example where the light would be changing so rapidly that working from a photo makes sense. The telephone poles echo the vertical panels of the fence and reinforce the geometric shapes. Yes that is a dumpster in the lower right. I almost edited it out but liked how it anchored the painting and created another overlapping shape.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Magnet Machine, 16 x 20, oil on canvas

This is the second of the scrap yard series. This baby picks up anything, as long as it is made of steel.  It's technical name is Link Belt 5800, but I nicknamed it the Magnet Machine. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to move huge pieces of metal around with this? Probably a boy thing. I painted it from the front so the extreme foreshortening would add drama and depth to the painting. Next subject, the CAR CRUSHER!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scrap Yard, 30 x 40, oil on canvas

Landscape painting can encompass just about anything. Here we have a scrap yard. This holds a lot of memories for me and a close friend who used this as their playground. The entire area is a cornucopia of shapes and colors, all waiting to be recycled. The large yellow machine on the top shears it all into small pieces before being shipped to a steel mill. I choose to paint it with snow because it introduces a lighter value and delineates the forms.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Twin Windows and Chairs, 9 x 12, oil on panel


This is part of my Johnstown series. I was taken by the twin windows and chairs, not to mention the twin shadow slices.  Sometimes the most mundane setting can be a piece of art. Degas once said, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see".

My painting Blue Awning was just used for this book cover, Emily Alone. The novel, which is set in Pittsburgh, has received good reviews. Here is the link, Emily Alone, Penguin Books