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I begin all my paintings with a mineral spirits wash painting because of how quick and versatile that method is.  Things can be easily moved around with a paper towel “eraser” until everything has found its proper place. Then I wash in some basic colors, just something in the neighborhood, to begin those all-important relationships. The time this takes serves as an important introduction to the subject and some of its possibilities. 

 
   
 

One of the things I enjoy about plein air painting is the unique approach that every painting asks for. I usually begin a piece with an awareness of what I know and don’t know about it.  And so, a good starting point is in any area that I’m somewhat sure of.  As I work there, I keep an eye on the rest, and watching how the subject displays itself.  I liken this to listening to its stories, and my reactions to those moments are my guide.  It can’t be predicted when that awareness of really getting what a painting is about will happen, but I’ve learned to be patient, because it always comes along piece by piece, and it fully arrives eventually.

 
   
 

Of course, sometimes utterly practical matters can guide a painting. Flowers only bloom when they bloom, and clouds only float when they’re afloat.  One painting I’m currently working on has a set of trees in the foreground that are being undercut by the stream.  It appears that they may tumble into the stream any day now, so I’m painting them in earnest.  Wish them, and me luck!

 
   
 

Overall, the colors in the painting and their relation to each other, are my greatest joy, and highest priority.  One of my little jokes about the colors of nature is that "you have to see them to believe them,” and I sure enjoy seeing them, and all of the surprises they contain. One pattern I notice is that I will begin any painting or any section of a painting without really knowing how I am going to paint it. As Nature leads the way, showing me the colors and patterns, and everything I might need to learn, I simply trust and follow along as best I can. ¬†When any disquiet emerges in the process, or later in the cool of the evening, I remember that tomorrow will offer another chance to revisit, and rework, and refine. Nature leads, and I follow. The more I experience this, the more I grow in trusting what terrific adventures she creates, and how much fun there is in all its unfolding.

 
  ... the Peace
 

I sincerely hope that my fondness for life in the great outdoors won’t give the impression that I don’t also appreciate my own hours in the studio, or anyone else’s hours in the studio. And so, to my painting friends and colleagues, and to anyone else that appreciates art, I want to express how completely the authorship of the artist lives in all paintings, wherever their creation has occurred. A glance at Nature, a memory of that, or any photographs won't put a single ounce of paint on a canvas. The artist does. We really do author every square inch of our works, and I don’t consider paintings done inside or outside either superior or inferior to each other. A good painting is what we are after, and the place or process is independent of the quality or qualities that ultimately reside in a painting.

I encourage everyone as I encourage myself, to keep going and keep growing. This is a follow your heart business we are in, and every step helps guide the next one as we make our ways along our paths.

 
   
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