That’s not really green

Here we have the third pass for Sky Pads 36. It looks like there’s quite a bit of green in the picture now. The truth is, it’s a kind of soft navy blue (if there even is such a thing) which I mixed using phthalo blue, which is a really bright blue, and some mars red, which looks sort of like dark red bricks. Putting the new “navy” mix over the yellow gave it a green cast. And because the colors I mixed it from are transparent, it gives a feeling of looking through them.

There’s still a bit more contrast to be added to this painting, then I can figure out, once again, how to unite the subject with the background. As I have had many times, I have a plan. I’m simply not sure it will work. I’d like to make sure the lily pads continue to look like they’re floating, but not necessarily in water. Maybe in some ephemeral concoction.

Posted in art, landscape, oil paintings, painting techniques, Poured paint, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Yellow be gone…some of it anyway

I managed to get truer colors in this photo, which shows the second pass of transparent paint over the poured paint background. Now I will direct my efforts toward working more of the background colors into the lily pads. And the harder part, keeping everything relatively transparent as the subsequent layers go on.

Sky Pads 36, with 2 layers of paint over the background
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Sky Pads 36–let’s dream a bit

Looks kind of yellow, eh?

It won’t stay this way long. The colors didn’t photograph well, and I have too much else to do right at this moment to futz with it. Let’s just say that it won’t always look this yellow. The large yellow shapes are the lily pads and their shadows.

In the meantime, I have a bunch of paperwork I have to get completed, not to mention preparing all the stuff that goes into each iteration of the twice yearly Cass County Regional Gallery exhibit, which is sponsored by Cass Area Artists. I somehow got myself into being the chief organizer for this event. At least our fundraiser, which will support the gallery exhibits, has reached its goal. It will still run another couple of weeks, because I have no qualms whatsoever about going over the top. If you’re curious you can read about my fundraiser efforts here:

In the meantime, have a great weekend to all!

Posted in art, Cass Area Artists, gallery show, landscape, oil paintings, painting techniques, Poured paint, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maybe yes, maybe no

I meant to have this finished by the end of June. I had a plan. The plan went awry. Basically, I was going take a trick I had done with Sky Pads 34 and apply it to #35. Major fail, at least in the sense that the idea was good but the manner of application was overkill. I ended up with the sprayed white paint, which was mostly turpentine and very little paint, settling in a puddle and actually lifting up dark colors that I had previously applied and running them in various unintended directions. I don’t have a photo of that. I had to wait over a week just for the turpentine to dry (evaporate, actually) before I could even think about what to do next.

The first thing I decided to do when things got dry enough was to restore some of the dark areas. It turned out that I like them better on the “lesser dark” repair. I also brightened up the color of the lily pads. The next question was what to do about the wimpy-looking original thin paint pour that was still intact on the entire upper half of the painting. It didn’t have anything that attracted the viewer’s eye. I got this brilliant idea to put a cloud-like coat of thin white paint on it with a mop-type brush. That didn’t work–I ended up dabbing off excess with a paper towel. And the dabbing in places went all the way down to the bare canvas.

This is starting to sound like a recipe for disaster, but I wasn’t about to give up. I found a rather stiff flat brush (left over from when I was in college, I think) that I could employ to shove some of the softer paint around until it kind of blended over the now bare canvas areas and somehow managed to suggest some cloud movement. So here’s what’s left:

Final, at least for the moment, version

Here’s its prior version, before all the disasters. Some may like it better, some may not. Hence the title of this post (maybe yes, maybe no)

In the meantime, Sky Pads 36 has had its background prepared for quite some time, and the drawing is on the canvas. So I’ll go there for a while and postpone the final vote on 35.

Posted in art, landscape, oil paintings, painting techniques, Poured paint, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The plea is working…and so is Sky Pads 35

My last post’s plea for donations to the 501(c)3 organization that I helped found and of which I am treasurer has been heard and acted upon. Not necessarily by a coterie of readers of my blog, but enough to get us 3/4 of the way to our goal. If you’d like to contribute, you can read about Cass Area Artists and toss an Andrew Jackson our way here:

Meanwhile, back at the studio…the third coat of paint is on the canvas. Now I confront the same issue I had with Sky Pads 34, to wit: melding the background and foreground together. I have some thoughts. I will git ‘er done sometime in the next couple of days, mainly because my self-imposed deadline was today and I hate missing deadlines. Here’s the present look–

When this is complete, I can start #36, which has been drawn on canvas and already has a nice coat of poured paint on it.

Posted in art, Cass Area Artists, charity, fundraiser, landscape, oil paintings, painting techniques, Poured paint, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An update and…a plea (first, the plea)

If you read my last post, most of the first part of this one will be familiar. But in case I have some new readers I will summarize just for their benefit😂.

I’m going to assume that most of my readers don’t know that for the past 7 years I have been treasurer of an artists group that concentrates most of its energy on bringing the world of visual art to under-served areas of a 5-county chunk of Michigan and Indiana commonly referred to as “Michiana”. Our group, Cass Area Artists, became an official 501(c)3 federally recognized non-profit entity last December after an exhaustive effort on my part to file the required paperwork. The “required paperwork” with any government department is pretty much ipso-facto a huge hassle to get perfect. Yours truly was relieved when we were approved, but she was also mentally fatigued!

Before we had official non-profit status we asked locally-owned businesses to help us out financially, and they did so generously. When the pandemic hit we couldn’t bring ourselves to ask small businesses which were struggling to survive to toss money our way too. So for more than two years we marshaled our funds and spent carefully on our projects. In the meantime, our chief fundraiser (who was also our founding director) retired and moved far away. This left us to decide what to do about our shrinking treasury.

So-o-o-o…the decision was made to launch an online fundraiser, which nobody in the group had ever done before. We would have liked to put it on our Cass Area Artists Facebook page, but it turned out that for us, at least, dealing with Facebook was even harder than dealing with the government. We decided to crowd-fund, and I, as the now long-suffering treasurer, pushed myself even further by taking on the creation of the online fundraiser. I virtually attended an hour-long webinar on how to do it, which was the easy part. I then spent literally a working week actually making it happen. I was a wreck, lost sleep over it, worked it, tweaked it, tested it, educated my team on how to spread the word about it, and finally went live with it. And wonder of wonders, people are responding. As of this post, one week into our campaign, we are a tad more than 1/4 of the way to our goal of $2000.

This where my faithful readers come in. I would like you to consider contributing any amount, large, small, in between, whatever. You can go directly to our campaign by clicking here:

Or you can go to Cass Area Artists website and click on the donate button in the top right corner of the home page.

Or if you prefer to use your cell phone, you can scan this handy QR code which will take you to

No matter which way you access the donor site, you will be able to see a full description of who Cass Area Artists is and the services we provide. If you think we do good work, then let your heart decide if you would like to lend a helping hand to that work.

NOW–ON TO THE UPDATE (if you’re still with me by this point)

So about 10 days ago I showed you the beginnings of Sky Pads 35, which I claimed was maybe 1/3 done. Amid the fundraising distraction I was able to put the second layer on it, and here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Yeah, I know, they look almost exactly the same. Never mind that to get to the second one cost me a few hours of work. There’s more contrast and detail in the second one (which for some reason the photographer let extra lighting sneak in on the left side, but oh well). The next step will be to add even more definition and depth by applying a transparent coat of the orange’s complimentary color, blue. My intuition says this will work out very nicely. We shall see. As for the step after that, all bets are off as I have no freakin’ idea what will come next!

Posted in art, Cass Area Artists, charity, fundraiser, oil paintings, painting techniques, photography challenges, Poured paint, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

No, I have not left the planet

I just noticed my last post was sometime in March. I do look at and comment on bloggers posts I follow, but there hasn’t been much going on in my studio except waiting and a little bit of painting. Somehow I managed to get quite tangled up in my unpaid job as treasurer for Cass Area Artists, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit of which I am a co-founder.

It seems that the last two years have made for a rough road for a lot of organizations, and ours did not escape. So my first task, completed in March, was to secure our official 501(c)3 status with the federal government and then put together a fundraiser. As is usual with bureaucracies, they took their sweet time granting 501(c)3 status. Then I worked on a never-ending project with Facebook to be able to get a “donate” button on Cass Area Artists Facebook page. At some point in the past we had to change our address because our director retired and moved out of state, and that’s where the mail had been going. It again fell to the federal government to accept our change of address. That still has not happened, although I filed the form for the change on March 1. Facebook refuses to give us a “donate” button until our physical address (which we actually don’t have because we neither own nor rent property…) matches between what we told the feds was our new address and what is the address on our bank account. I had to make two tries to get the bank account changed. And it still didn’t appear on the bank statement. So I went the other route Facebook suggested, and got an official letter from the bank verifying our account and the address Facebook insisted we should have. Still not good enough.

I rebelled, as I am wont to do when faced with utter nonsense. I decided to do a work-around for Facebook by setting up a fundraising account with another entity which would allow me to put a link from anywhere to the fundraiser. I can put a link on the Facebook page too. The only frustrating part of all of this is that setting up the fundraiser account has occupied hours of my time so as I said at the top of this screed, I have done little painting. However, all was not lost.

After waiting a considerable amount of days since that last post in March, a hot day (heat is essential for the process) finally arrived and I was able to pour paint on two canvases for the next Sky Pads paintings. Then I had to wait another long time for them to dry sufficiently so I could transfer the drawings. Somewhere along the way I managed to squeeze in about one and a half coats of paint on the first one. When I finally decided to document it on my blog, it had been so long that I couldn’t remember what the next number was for the Sky Pads series. Had to look it up. It’s number 35.

Sky Pads 35, maybe 1/3 done.

In passing, I can say that I managed to get two Sky Pads paintings into a couple of good shows. One at the Box Factory in Saint Joseph, Michigan, which I have been in a few times and even had a sale out of a few years back. The second one is at the South Bend Museum of Art in Indiana, which was doing a special exhibit of local artists only.

This one went to the Box Factory, Sky Pads 34
This one went to the South Bend Museum, Sky Pads 27

So looking ahead, Cass Area Artists has its monthly meeting this coming Saturday, and if everyone approves of how the fundraising page looks–a couple of photos and a video in addition to a laundry list of text pleading for money–it will go live and I can get back to being an artist. Heck, I may even put a “donate” link on my blog. Why not?

Posted in Box Factory for the Arts, Cass Area Artists, charity, gallery show, landscape, museums, oil paintings, Poured paint, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The times they are a-changing

I had to let this painting of Dez sit for a couple of days. Painting the parts of the horse that were under tack that the artist removed can be somewhat of a puzzle to be solved. This one in particular was a puzzle because the camera angle of the source photo was a bit unusual. The horse was bent to his left (towards the right side of the photo) and I would have expected to see more of his right side in that angle since he was curling to his left. But his haunches were behind the saddle and rider that had been removed and I couldn’t see much to get a clue from either side. I went with that original angle, but it made the other side of him look really skinny and, coincidentally, unbalanced.

I retreated to my enormous files of reference photos and ended up with…a painting from a very old Christmas card (!) to use as a reference for a new angle which would show more of his right side (left side of the photo). I also straightened out his front end a bit so it would go with the new angle. I think now he looks like he’s coming toward the camera with some purpose and some strength in his posture.

I added more branches to the background and played with the shading to get more light/dark contrast. I think it’s done now. But as usual I will let it sit again for a few days in a spot where I will come upon it every morning and see if my judgement remains the same. Here you go–

Dez, final version
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Dez, part 3-1/2

Here’s yesterday’s status at quitting time. That white stuff I showed you in the last post needed to be there so I could shade the background behind the willow branches from light to dark and let the viewer see the light effects behind the trees. The faint colors that were there originally gave me a clue as to how I wanted to play with the shading in the background. The white was a thin coat over the branches so I didn’t lose total sight of where I had put the branches in the first place. You can see how I now have a pretty good start on all the variations in the background.

Dez himself is pretty much finished. There might be a few details I will attend to, but it all depends on how much more I do with the background. At present I think he could do with a bit more gray shading on the rest of him to match what’s on his head. Aren’t you happy to know that you don’t have to make all these itty bitty decisions unless you’re an artist?

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Dez, part 2-1/2

OK, now I’m going to scare you. The initial post of my commission of Dez showed the horse and some willow tree branches on a delicately colored background. Here’s the next pass:

Whaaat??? Did it snow or something? Fog?? Why is the background now almost white?? Never mind. This was from 2 days ago. I’ve worked on it today and I’ll let you see what happened tomorrow.

Posted in art, horse portrait, horses, oil paintings, painting techniques | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments