On Retreat – A painting experience

Today is Day 3 of my painting retreat. I’ve been blogging on my Kickstarter page but thought I’d update what’s happening here, too. I’m at my friends’ house in the mountains about an hour southwest of Denver. There is a great huge studio that I have use of while they are away. I’m house sitting, too.

I’ve done a nice little painting of a shady area along the Steven’s Gulch creek where the siphon from the Fire Mountain Canal goes under it. Sounds industrial but it isn’t, its very overgrown and interesting. Steven's Gulch siphon

I also have a few helpers in the studio.


Below are some stages I go through in the creation of a painting. The first one is a value sketch that is the under painting. Then I start laying in the colors and then adding detail. I don’t like the way this little painting is going so I’m going to rework it this morning.


Off to the studio!


Raining today

Well its been raining on and off today. I didn’t get outside to do any sketching like I did yesterday. I managed to get a nice one in of some sunflowers in my yard. I added some colored pencil to the drawing and it looked good.

Today I read an art book and also spend time cleaning some dried stuff (ink? paint?) in my studio that was on the table. I may do another little sketch of Tova, my dog, when I finish this post.

Reading John Carlson

I’ve been reading John F. Carlson’s Elementary Principles of Landscape Painting. It an old book from 1928.


But its filled with great basic information on putting together a good landscape painting. I keep getting reminded by Mr. Carlson of the things about composition and color that I’ve either forgotten I learned long ago or that I remember I learned but have been ignoring. That is helping me grow as an artist.

This book is filled with really old-fashioned sayings. For example he starts a sentence with Yea! Anon… when he just talked about doing a technique. I figured out it wasn’t Shakespeare but him saying something like ‘Let’s go now’. Which was pretty close. Anon means right away.

DSCF0006Here I am reading and taking notes. I know this book has already helped me by reminding me of what I learned about painting and have been ignoring.

en Plein Air painting.

I love going outside and painting! Its just as great (sometimes better) than working in the studio.


En plein air (French pronunciation: ​[ɑ̃ plɛn ɛʁ]) is a French expression which means “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called peinture sur le motif (“painting on the ground”) in French.

I currently have a little watercolor field kit and schlep stuff in a box. I have taken a sketch pad with pencils in a zip-lock bag and put it in my saddle bag when riding and I know there will be time to sketch. I am hoping to have better gear soon!

Here is me and my dog, Tova, on a painting trip about an hour from my house.

Plein Air

My dog, Tova, and I along the Gunnison River in Delta County, CO. She keeps an eye out for me when I am engrossed in painting.