The inspiration for “Better Days” was the challenge to see if I could get the lighting just right. Nestled between two rises of land lay this little homestead, quietly existing in rural Idaho. To me, it conveyed a sense of continued hope that seemed to enliven the everyday feel of life and make it seem special. The light seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. There were no sharp shadows or highlights to be had. I realized that without direct sunlight, everything was of a medium value and color. I think that's what was made this view uniquely compelling to me. Where some may see a scene of mostly flat grays, I saw color harmony. To get the mood I was after, I had to carefully craft my oil paint mixtures to maintain balance in the value and chroma among all the subtle color differences.
I was drawn to paint this creek feeding into the Umpqua River in Oregon because of the transparency of the water. It was so clear as to be invisible. I liked how the stream was quietly flowing even though movement was imperceptible. The inspiration to paint “Clear Creek” came from the challenge of trying to render the busyness of the colors, patterns, and contrasts of the surrounding foliage and trees in comparison to the calmness of the water. I liked how the shadows of trees outside of the image cast perpendicular shadows across the view. I had everything in play here—warm and cool colors, soft and sharp edges, high and low-key color—all balanced against an interesting composition. I decided to paint this scene on a large canvas because you needed to be engulfed with the detail to fully experience the feeling of being deep in the woods.
I came across these fallen trees on Lookout Mountain on a bright sunny day, which inspired me to paint “Fallen Tree.” Bleached white by the sun and wind at 6,000 feet, they seemed like a unique slice of nature. These big bare trees reflected the deep blues of the sky in a wonderful array of blues from across the spectrum.
This was a good challenge to paint because of the subtleties between the different blues balanced against the white limbs spread all akimbo through the scene. I also liked the textural effects on the wood itself, so this view had several key elements to attract the eye.
I love hiking above the tree line. The scenery changes abruptly at upper elevations, where the lush greens of the dense forest give way to twisted, stark trees bleached white by wind and sun.
The inspiration for “Lichen Lights” came from noticing how the lichen in the tree branches just lit up in direct sun. Capturing that in oils proved to be a paint-mixing challenge. How do you paint something that bright and make it glow? The yellow tone contrasts nicely against the purplish shadow tones of the barkless tree. In the sunlight, these trees were a pure white.
This view is across a vast canyon where little to no detail was to be had. It was very blue and I think the color was enhanced by the sky reflecting off the mist in the air. The trees in front of this canyon had red tones to them, so I added a manganese violet to my gray mixture. I used the contrast of the complementary colors to maximum effect by painting the lichen extra bright so it seemed to light up the entire scene.
I could do a whole series on driveways. They seem to be as individual as fingerprints. Some are welcoming, while others seem to say, keep out! “Neighbor’s Drive” was inviting and seemed to have the landowner's personality all over it. I wanted to drive down it just to see what was around the corner post.
The fence rails along the drive had interesting cast shadows that defined the lay of the land. I love the contrast between the intensity of the light and in the cast shadow it created. I also liked how the edges were lit with both pink and orange lines, and how their very exactness contrasted nicely against the amorphous rounds of the trees.
The challenge was how to keep the light bright and the fully charged with color. The foreground shadows contained lots of deep satisfying color that contrasted well against the reds, greens and yellows of the trees further down the drive.
I titled this painting “New Spring” because it offers optimism and newness in a unique color pattern intrinsic to the Pacific Northwest. A certain kind of visual magic happens in early spring when deciduous trees bud and flower in soft colors of pink, white and yellow in contrast with the region's deep evergreen forests.
As I painted this I realized that each brush stroke represented millions of tiny flowers or leaves. The resultant colors are very harmonious to my eye and subsequently are interesting to paint. The challenge to the viewer may be the lack of an obvious focal point, but those that take the time look a little deeper will discover that it is these color harmonies themselves that are the focus. Singly the colors are interesting enough, but when in tandem to the whole scene they become exciting.
This tiny little painting feels slightly voyeuristic because it seemed like I was looking through a window to another time. It’s small, it’s quaint, and it’s so hometown USA. I was inspired to paint this landscape was because of the elegant design quality of its composition, especially the strong line between the upper and lower half of the painting and how the road leads up to the farmhouse nestled in the trees. I loved how the warm green stripe in the middle contrasted against the cool green foreground, which reflected more of the light blue of the sky.
Pacific forests are full of mystery and intrigue. Many of the most accessible trails and roads are around water, waterfalls, rivers, and creeks. When I turned the corner on this trail, I was struck by how light came from the right and placed a bright band across the moss on the rocks and trees and contrasted to great effect this wonderful deep forest scene.
In “Pacific Forest” I enjoyed building on the inherent contrast between the yellow band of light with the purple tinged trees, and I helped it along with my choice of glazes and details to give depth to the image until you could just feel the moistness in the air.
I love the contrasting views on this road in Idaho. You can see the difference that water and light make on the landscape. The slow melting snow waters the north facing sides of the mountains provide for growing a forest and the south facing side is barren because it melted too fast.
This view was especially engaging because of the different types of contrast it held. There’s complementary colors, there’s light and shadow and there’s soft and hard edges. All of this was contained beyond banded foreground that elicited my eye to inspect it closer. Remarkably there’s plenty to see and ponder.
These falls were jewel like in their reflections. I was inspired by trying to recreate the sparkle of the falling water. While I could have used a common green throughout I chose instead to make lots of unique greens using transparent iron oxide, lemon yellow and a range of blues.
Landscape views are plentiful and beautiful in the Pacific Northwest. Right around the corner from where I live are acres and acres of farmland and rural countryside just ripe for the picking of images to paint. "Spring Promise" is one of those views that promises spring will come again and all is right with the world.
I was inspired to paint this view because of the strong contrast of newly flowered trees caught in the bright light and how it contrasted against the shadows of the mature forest behind it. I liked the show of man’s hand in the tractor wheel marks that helped to illustrate the undulation of the land. I utilized complementary glazes to make the shadowy trees more purple and gold to make the field jump out in front of it subsequently giving more visual depth between the two.
I love early morning light as it first hugs the ground and lights up all the edges--tufts of grass, weeds, trees and other vagaries of the early morning. The overall golden look of this scene was very engaging and presented an enticing painting challenge as well.
I especially liked the bands of color in the landscape, from the foreground, which pulls you into the middle and backgrounds, to the serene blue sky. The buildings nestled in the foliage make for an interesting backdrop to the stark brightness of the sun’s rays across the ground. I played up the color contrast by using complementary cobalt blue in the shadow areas and orange and burnt sienna with white for the grasses in front of it. The grasses are mostly in bright areas where things start to wash out, so I purposely punched up the color and layers of paint to give definition to the upward facing hill.
The silhouetted shapes of the end of the left arbor say “grapevine” without delineating it, giving this painting its "Vineyard Road" title and hinting at the behind-the-scenes alchemy of the wine making business.