the Marsh in April / oil

marsh in april
I was standing on a thin strip of ground between the road into Henricus and the swamp. A few of the people driving in and out watched my progress. I was there for 10 or more days for a few hours at a time. Some people stopped to tell me they like my painting. Some of the guys asked me if I was planning on painting any ducks in. I said maybe not, but if someone wants to buy the painting and they want ducks I’ll paint ducks. 😉

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the Heron Rookery at Henricus / charcoal

a link below has a movie clip of the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman's character giving advice to a young writer

a link below has a movie clip of the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character giving advice to a young writer

I saw a few seconds of this clip on the news. The wise words are at the end. Naturally the news didn’t show the pithy part.

I hope this link works. Sorry about my ungood computer skills

News from the art world in Richmond VA.

Art6 on Broad St. closed. The owner of the building wants to convert it into apartments. I was sad to hear it because I liked to enter shows there.

Helene Ruiz worked out a plan to keep her group “The Urban Individualists” together and invited me to join. I’m excited about it! I always thought they were a cool group. When I join a group I usually stay on the edge of it. I’m not sure why. But I feel like my work would be missed if I didn’t participate in this one. I told Helene I was happy to be in with the cool kids and she kind of chuckled but didn’t say if she thinks we’re cool or not. That was on Sat. before Philip Seymour Hoffman died. Then Sarah sent me this link and now I’m not sure  if there’s a chance of coolness or not. Maybe Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character was right about artists being uncool. The last words on the clip remind me of what my friend Dick Clayman said so I think it sounds true.

I’ll post more info on the Urban Individualists as I get it. Our big night in Feb. is the 28th. Gallery 140. at Artworks on Hull St.

come on down!

The Marsh at Henricus / oil

See the shots below stripping off the layers of paint all the way back to my underpainting

See the shots below stripping off the layers of paint all the way back to my underpainting.

“Painting in the couch”  is working for me because it’s easy to make corrections. I wish I had some Maroger Medium but it’s not available here. My daughter told me they make it in Mexico. I’m using Liquin Light Gel Medium. To paint in the couch you paint clear medium on the dry canvas in the area you want to work, then paint into the slick medium with paint thinned with a little turp.

I like when it bleeds because it’s easy to control the bleed with a dry brush or paper towels. If you mix your colors on your palette with a palette knife you can let a warm color and cool color bleed together and the result isn’t a muddy color but a gray that vibrates a little. Then you can let it dry overnight and build on top of it with more glazes or more opaque colors.

If I mix a color and I think it’s right but when I paint it into the couch it looks like the wrong value it’s easy to wipe it off and I don’t destroy what I did before because the layer underneath is dry.

Building up layers of glazes gives depth to the background and makes shadows more interesting. I painted the cat tails on top. not in the couch , with opaque paint so they would stand out from the rest.

underpainting of the marsh at Henricus

underpainting at henricusIt’s a color rough and composition plan. Sketching in some trees helps me get the scale. You can see so much you have to narrow it down. I decide which trees I want to draw and where I want the sky, land and water on the canvas. The dark spots in the water are the gray tint on the canvas I let show through to visualize where I want to arrange the cat tails in the end.  I have to finish the painting before I can paint the cat tails so they can be a focal point on top.

underpainting at Henricus

I love swamps.

I love swamps.


The first day I went to Henricus to work on this painting, I was looking at 9 yards of mud. I planned to paint the mud, but as I was working on the sky, I saw the water suddenly covered the mud. I thought, ok, this is tidal. I was at the James River below the fall line, about 1/2 hour drive down 95 close to Chester

James River Marsh @ Henricus / finished

plein air painting / winter / VA.

plein air painting / winter / VA.


We had some cold and blustery weather, some snow that didn’t last long, and some rain in the past 2 weeks. The sky stayed mostly cloudy with some peeks of blue. Most winter days here, the temperature goes over 40. ( Freezing is 32, our Celsius reading friends. ) I wear gloves that I cut the finger tips off, layers and hiking boots. I don’t mind the cold for an hour or so, while I’m concentrating. Then when I take a break I feel cold. So I force myself to continue a little longer, then I go home and warm up. Wind and rain can stop me from going out to paint. The best thing about hanging around in the swamp in the winter is, NO MOSQUITOES !! 🙂