Dead Vehicle

This was going to be my entry in an online painting challenge, run by James Gurney on his blog Gurney Journey, titled “Dead Vehicle Challenge”. But I cheated – the rules were that it had to be a plein air painting; mine was done in the studio from a photo, so I couldn’t submit it for the contest, but I can display it here. It’s actually my next door neighbor’s car, and it hasn’t run for quite a few years. Every year the blue tarp seems to uncover just a bit more, which accounts for the brick on the windshield.

Watercolors, goauche and watercolor pencils.

Color and Value

This post is actually about value as it relates to color, but is also something of an In Memoriam. Here’s a gouache painting of the cherry tree that once graced the left side of the Reading Public Museum’s main entrance, and has just recently been removed. The tree stood for generations and was a favorite subject of mine. I’ve drawn, photographed or painted it many times over the decades. This painting was made from a photo that is about 20 years old.

Color is a challenge for me, especially as it relates to value. Fortunately, I have Photoshop, and within that very powerful program is a feature that allows one to convert a color scan to black and white. So, when I’m struggling with a painting, I scan and convert it.  The grayscale version will immediately show any value mistakes, and I can correct it from there.

On The Rocks

I reached for the gouache this time. The fast, rough motion of waves battering rocks on the New Jersey coast needed a medium that is also fast and energetic to describe the action. I used quick, swirly brush strokes for the crashing water; short, blocky strokes to describe the flat, stubbornness of the rocks as they so insolently resisted the onslaught. It was a bleak, February day in Spring Lake. The medium seemed to fit the scene. This is one color – Prussian blue and white on illustration board, and is currently in my older brother’s collection.

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Our shore trip this year included the storm known as Hermine. For us, it meant two days of wind-blown rain and red-flagged beaches. The surf was thunderous, pounding the beach with fistfuls of waves that rolled in and crossed over, one on top of the next in a series of foaming, rapid-fire punches that sent concussive thudding sounds across the dunes. As we stood by the water, watching this furious display, a young lady trudged past us, carrying a surf board, her blond hair almost sideways in the wind. About a half mile up the beach, she turned right and headed straight into the maelstrom, throwing down her surf board and falling on top of it just before the first wave crashed over her head. She reappeared, then disappeared over and over, as rolling green mountains of water continually pressed her deep into the valleys between them. But she always surfaced, paddling up into the face of the next wave only seconds before disappearing under another avalanche of foam. This continued for about fifteen minutes. Then, like a prize fighter who has worn down her opponent, she emerged victorious, past the last line of breakers. There she joined two or three other kindred spirits sitting on their boards, all of them, no doubt recovering their strength for what would most likely be a fast ride back to the beach.

This is a gouache painting on Arches paper.

Fashion Show


On the beach, Olivia decided to try on her mommy’s straw hat, and it looked like a perfect fit! For this one I scanned a pencil sketch and used an old desktop printer to transfer the image onto a piece of Stonehenge paper. I stretched that and finished it with watercolors and a bit of gouache.

En Plein Air


Last weekend, the borough of West Reading held a Plein Air painting contest in conjunction with their annual Arts On The Avenue festival. I did not sign up for the event, but I did ride my bike around, making sketches of some of the painters who did participate. This is one of the artists that I found painting tiger lilies along Museum Road on Saturday morning. Watercolors and gouache on bristol board.

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Way back


in grade school, I fancied myself learning to play the trumpet. At home, however, this idea was immediately, and perhaps wisely, discouraged. Here I am anyway, blaring away. Gouache and watercolor on bristol board.

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