Monday, January 13, 2020

January 2020 Newsletter

A New Year!

I like Tom Peter’s assertion, “Whoever makes the most mistakes the fastest, wins!” Or Hemingway, “If you can start, you’ll be all right, the juice will come.” Problem is, negative thinking often gets in the way, keeps us from acting. It can keep me from starting a painting, applying for a show, making resolutions etc. Steven Pressfield refers to it as resistance. "Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your life’s work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify, seduce, bully, cajole. It will take any form to deceive you. Resistance is always lying and always full of *#”!.

The beginning of a new year always presents a choice. Do I give in and dwell in resistance, doubt and fear, the cynical view that new year’s resolutions don’t last? Or like Emily Dickinson, do I dwell in possibility. I’m stickin' with Emily.

(…and thanks for stopping by.)



I'm looking forward to my annual workshop "Painting in the City". I'm preparing a little booklet with instruction on general principles of painting, along with specific tips on city painting. It will be available only to members of the class! Starts Saturday, 27 Feb and runs for 4 consecutive Saturdays.
(Each image on this site can be enlarged by clicking on it)

Plein air painting in downtown Phoenx

Upcoming Show

I'm continuing to prepare for my show this Spring. The reception will be 1st Friday, April 3 at Olney Gallery, located on the Trinity Cathedral Campus, just west of Central on Roosevelt in downtown Phoenix. It will be a collection of oil, gouache and watercolor  paintings around the valley, mostly cityscapes and neighborhoods but maybe a few desert paintings also. I'll be showing with Christen Quissell who does beautiful watercolors of old neighborhoods in Phoenix. You are invited to come!
here are 2 of the paintings that will be there.

Detail, painting of downtown Phoenix

Country Club and Main, Mesa, SE Corner

Prints Available

This Dairy Queen with its iconic sign was a small but loved landmark in Mesa for decades. This is a painting that I did a few years ago. 9x12 archival prints are available for $35. If you are interested, email me at

Landscape Commission

I've put some of my city painting on hold as I've been working on a commission for Chase and Tatum Rassmusen. Here's a detail of the work in progress. It's an extraordinary view from the cabin their family has owned for a few generations. It's been a good change from the urban imagery. Thanks C & T!



Walking through the smog and congestion of Florence Italy, I turned and entered the convent of San Marco. The peace and beauty were so welcome! Wandering through the halls and rooms, every turn reveals a masterpiece fresco on the walls, painted by Fra Angelico, a monk who resided there in the 1400's. 
One of my most beautiful art books is Fra Angelico, by Jacqueline and Maurice Guillaud. Not only are the paintings stunning, the production of the book is gorgeous. The center dwell of pages are printed on a vellum like paper that simulates the dry, matte surface of fresco paintings on plaster.

The beauty of his faces are just one of the things I love about his work.

He was baptized Guido de Pietro. He took the name of Giovanni de Fiesole when he became a Dominican Friar. It was after his death that he received the name of Fran Angelico because of his angelic demeanor and because he painted like one.


We'll end this issue with a few pages from my sketchbooks, which I carry with me almost everywhere I go. Again, thanks for looking. Feel free to make a comment if you like.
Happy New Year.

Hangin' in the kitchen


Girl in store

Family friend

Barnes and Noble (She moved a few times)


Idea sketch

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Newsletter: First Edition

The artist Lois Dodd describes painters today as a medieval group doing their medieval thing and getting something out of it. I like that thought. While everybody is making instant, multiple pictures with their i-phone, a painter is slowly observing, mixing color, applying paint, evaluating, and re-painting, for hours, days, sometimes years on just one painting. That’s what painters have been doing ever since Giotto and it’s what I get to do everyday. 

This is the first issue of what I intend to be a monthly newsletter. It will be a way of sharing my experience as an artist now and over the last 40 years. I hope you enjoy it.


Show in 2020!
I’m happy to be having a show in April 2020 at Olney Gallery, located on the campus of the beautiful Trinity Cathedral at Roosevelt and Central, NE Corner. 
If you would like to receive a postcard/announcement, send your mailing address to . 

Detail of a piece for the show.

In conjunction with this show, I am in the midst of painting 30 plein air paintings around the valley, including city and desert. Some of these will be in the show, but a few I will be offering for sale in advance at reduced prices. You may want to keep watch on my Instagram and FB postings.

Painting in the City Workshop

I'm looking forward to my City Painting class with Scottsdale Artists School. It's a 4 week class, every Saturday morning 29 Feb-21 Mar. For this class I'll be spending a little more time in the studio than past sessions, giving more attention to color and design along with the challenge (and fun) of painting out in the streets. For more information you can go here.

MCC Library
In late October, the MCC Library will be featuring a number of my works. An old saw says “You should paint pictures you would like to hang on your own walls because that’s probably where they’ll end up.” Although I've sold quite a few paintings, some of my favorites are still stored in my studio. This will give them an opportunity to be seen! Thank you MCC.

Recent Events

Pastel Award
In August, I was surprised and honored to learn that I had won the Kenneth Wellner award at the annual show of the Pastel Society of America. Who knew that a quiet little piece (only 8x10) could win an award amidst all those much larger and louder paintings! 

My pastels are a counterpoint to
my oil paintings; smaller, more
intimate, usually portraits or
head studies.

So, in September, Diane and I had a fabulous time at the venerable National Arts Club in New York to accept the award and hang out with all the cool kids.

Paintings in Mesa City Hall

I've often been out on the streets of my hometown, Mesa AZ, painting en plein air. Through Scott Higginson (a good friend and supporter of the arts) Mayor John Giles became aware of my work and invited me to hang some paintings in City Hall. At the time, I only had the small plein-air work. Scott suggested I do at least one larger piece to act as a center piece which resulted in the Diving Lady, a painting I've been wanting to do for years. Thank you Scott and Mayor Giles for your support of the arts.

The Diving Lady
As with most of my paintings, as important as the subject matter is the quality of light. In this case, it's the late afternoon sun lighting up this whole environment and creating some interesting shadow shapes. I'm particularly happy with the illuminated palm trees acting like musical notes on a staff across the top of the painting leading to the wonderful neon sign.


Over the years I’ve collected quite a few art books. In each newsletter, I'd like to share one with you.
I’ll start with one of my old standards, Edward Hopper, the Art and the Artist, by Gail Levin.
As you can see below, it is very used.

I first started loving Hopper when I was about ten and I saw a painting "7 AM" in an art book I got for Christmas. When I went to Art Center College of Design, my interest in his work was renewed as is evidenced by this watercolor I did for one of my classes.

About the time I graduated, I found this newly released book in one of the bookstores in LA. It is the catalogue book for a major retrospective of his work that originated at the Whitney Museum in New York. Soon after graduation, my wife and I moved to Phoenix and lo and behold, the Hopper Retrospective had come to Phoenix. For the first time I saw his work in real life. That was 35 years ago but I still remember being amazed at every turn.

End Word

In college, I was an art major at BYU. In my sophomore year, I had become discouraged with my progress. Late one night, working on a painting of a saddle, I became so frustrated I threw down my brush, put everything away and as I walked home in the freezing air, decided to quit. I was through with this meaningless art stuff! I would change my major to history and become a seminary teacher. The next day, staring at the due date of the project and not wanting to face the teacher without an assignment, I went back to try and finish the painting. This time, that magical thing happened where I lost track of everything else and was totally absorbed in looking and painting. The saddle emerged in ways that none of my watercolors ever had. I continued with other assignments, and they were some of the most successful paintings in the class. Years later, I heard some advice: Never quit an endeavor when you are in the depths of discouragement. Wait until things even out a little before you quit. I think that is good advice. Unfortunately, I no longer have the painting, but the lesson has stayed with me.

Until January, have a great holiday season!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What makes a painting better.

This was my painting for the day (the one on top).  I tried this same subject a couple years ago. It turned out rather disappointing (the one on the bottom). This one I'm happy with. It's what I love about painting. To find the shapes and colors and arrangement that create a song across the canvas, regardless the subject. Why does this one work better? Better color. The relationship/contrast between the cool shadow planes and the warm light, especially that one yellow building. The warms and cools on the face of the granary in the middle.  Better resolution of forms and shapes. Cropping in closer made the negative shapes more interesting. I like the repetition of angles across the picture. That gets a little lost in the older one. There is a good rhythm across the canvas on top that doesn't happen on the bottom one. The accents/beats of the darks: the tree, the dark shape in the granary, the palm tree and the tracks along the bottom, with the smaller beats of the tall and short posts. That said, looking at the older one now after a couple years, I like it better than I thought. I like seeing the whole granary up to the top, the way the link fence is articulated and the perspective of the fence and building at right. But I still like the new one better. What do you think?

Friday, November 4, 2016


Miracles seem to me to rest not so much upon healing power coming suddenly near us from afar but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that, for a moment, our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there around us always. – Willa Cather

 That's one reason I paint. It opens me up to those finer moments.

I've been enjoying doing these small landscapes out in the desert a few miles from my house.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I've been looking at Sorolla's apunte's lately. That's the word used in a book I have for his small, quick oil sketches he made on sight. The english translation is simply note. And that's what they are, quick notes of a scene. I'll put some up on a later post, but not here with mine!

This is a quick apunte I did in downtown Phoenix. The Westward Ho, Fillmore and Central.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Late Afternoon Sun

A view of Phoenix on a winter day, late afternoon.
Focused on simplifying shapes and values.

6 x 8, oil on card board