The rediscovery of my love for Plein Air Painting is now complete. I spent 2 weeks driving around Coeur d’Alene ID and painting outside. The beauty of where we live has brought my artist’s soul back to life. The art expedition involved multiple trips, cruising around, and sightseeing till I noticed a great view. Then, stopping to hop out, set up the easel, and paint my heart out.

Barn Elkhorn Flats H0523
10″w x 8″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper/board cradle. Old barn in the prairie where Elkhorn Flats Wildlife Mitigation Unit is in Idaho.

3 Paintings

This was the first plein air I did during the art expedition. An old barn stopped me on the road and I had to back up to go see it. The old barn won an honorable mention ribbon and was the first painting sold in our booth.

Roadside Centurian Stump
11″h x 14″ w oil on stretched canvas. Stump on slow vehicle turnout from Hwy 97 E side of Lake Coeur d’Alene ID 23.2 miles from I-90

I pulled into a slow vehicle turn out to let traffic go by, and this guy greeted me right up front and center. What a personality this tree stump has. He didn’t win a ribbon but there was one young man who fell in love with it. He went off and brought back his whole family to vote for it as the people’s choice.

Blooming Wet H0723
11″w x 14″h x .75″d watercolor, acrylic & ink on 140lb wc paper/boar cradle. A wetland about 25 miles south on Hwy 97, full of blooming lilly ponds, grasses and wildlife named Thompson Refuge in Idaho.

This painting won the “People’s Choice” award for the plein air booth. Bloomin Wet is a close-up view from the bank of the water full of blooming lily pods, grasses, reeds, and lots of mosquitos.

1 Demo Painting

sunflower As described in a previous post, I did a demo of plein air painting from some fresh sunflowers in the booth during the Art on the Green show.

Single Sunflower
4″ x 4″ wc on 140 lb paper from a plein air demo at the Art on the Green booth.

This small 4″ x 4″ demo sold. There is another partially done one that I intend to finish in the studio. I’ll share about that when it is done.

Baby & Mom or Jesus

Mom & Baby PhotographBaby & Mom or Jesus are the subjects of this family snapshot showing the “Smooch, I love you!” moment, between a mom and her baby. It used to be a common practice for me to fully draw any idea out on paper before laying it out on any kind of canvas for painting. So, I’d typically end up with a pencil drawing and a painting of anything I was illustrating.

Baby & Mom K4006” is a 24″w x 18″h pencil drawing on sketch paper inspired by the above photograph.
Baby Jesus 01


I started on a rub-out oil on board painting in the middle of December. Right when the layout began to take shape on the canvas, a great Christmas carol played on the radio. The words captivated my imagination, and immediately changed the people in the painting into the characters sang about in the song.Baby Jesus 02

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will one day walk on water?….

Baby Jesus 03Oil on board painting, ” Baby Jesus L704“, 27.75″w x 21.75″h x .75″t

Baby Jesus 04In 2004, this painting won a place in the west coast USA tour going from Seattle WA to San Diego CA for the Seattle VSA disABILITIES Art contest.

I received an unusual call right before the paintings were sent off for their year-long trek. They asked me to change the name of the painting. Having a religious reference in the title was not appropriate. Really? I was surprised and called them back saying the title was openly stated on my entry form from the very beginning. I would not change the painting’s name. If that is not acceptable, return the painting to me and choose another. They decided to go ahead and send it on tour and there were no problems that I know of.

When I received Baby Jesus back home, I took it to a show at a garden nursery, and He was sold on the very first day. I did not see very much of either the sketch or the oil painting before they found forever homes. The customers had no problem at all with the titles of the pieces.

Painting the American Flag

I am painting the American flag on our propane tank. The U.S. flag has always held a warm space in my heart. I was taught to respect our nation’s flag as a beautiful symbol of freedom. It always reminds me of the Olympics. So, as I start on this project it is important that I get the painting right to show how lovely our flag looks as it moves in the wind.

walk away look

Looking at the tank last evening and then while walking down to the tank this morning I have decided to change that fold near the blue and stars.  I am not seeing the flowing movement that I want in the flag fabric and the stars are bugging me because they are not very consistent in size.

No worries though, because we can change anything we want as long as there is a paintbrush in hand. I will change the stars area into a slight wave in the fabric instead of the fold keeping the fold on the right side with red and white stripes. That should do it. I need to move the blue part a little more to the left and widen the first white stripe into an easier bend. Adjustments!

star masking 2
star masking 2
star masking
star masking

I mask off new locations in more consistent sizes. Masking allows freedom to freely paint the shadows and highlights of the flag fabric without worrying about messing up the stars. Applying masking tape strips to cover where the stars should be, then marking a star outline using a sharpie, followed by using an Exacto knife. Wa La!

revised layout
Revised layout

The real painting begins, making adjustments to the layout and mixing paints to get highlight where the flag reaches out. I have to pay close attention to where light and shadow should happen. Add shadow where the flag tucks into a wave base or continues after a fold. The right side of the tank will have a red stripe leading off into the back. I decide to add a shadow around all the stars while the masking tape is still there, hoping to get them stand out.

stripes around end
stripes around end

Lastly I remove the masking tape covering where the stars are to be. Then carefully paint white in the stars and we are finished.

flag stars painted white
flag stars painted white

Tank Beautification

Original propane tank
Original propane tank look

Remove an Eye Sore

My propane tank needs some tank beautification! Seriously, this is the propane tank that I see when I look out my kitchen window. I asked Pete if we can move it and he just laughs. Really, it seems out of place in our natural forest landscaping. It is just one of those things that really bugs me.

As an artist, I can change that, so this project begins. First I get a water hose out there and spray the tank down. With a bucket of warm water and TSP (trisodium phosphate) and a green kitchen scrubber, I get to work. Over the years, layers of pitch from the pine have accumulated a thick layer from the trees alongside it. That combined with lots of mildew have created a gross thick layer of icky stuff on the tank. Good-old TSP is a powerful cleaner that easily removes all the coodies on any surface needing paint. Make sure you read the label before you use it though because it is not a nice chemical if you handle it incorrectly.

clean propane tank
Clean propane tank

Looks quite different clean doesn’t it? I go back into the studio to come up with a drawing to get things right.

tank as a canvas area
Tank as a canvas area
design and paints
design & paints

I am wanting to put the American flag flowing in the wind on the tank. Starting with the blue background for the stars on the far left with the stripes going over the rest of the tank at an angle.

chaulk lines on tank
Chaulk lines on tank

I know it isn’t that easy to see but, I use blue chalk to layout areas on the tank for the different colors. Then I quickly paint a rough underpainting of the design on the tank.

undercoating of design
Undercoating of design

I walk back up to the house and let it dry overnight.

walk away look

Butterflies on the Brain

Butterflies Oil 01
Butterflies Oil 01

Butterflies on the brains so I just had to paint them. I noticed an unfinished oil painting that I started more than a year ago and just couldn’t quit thinking about it. So, I got out the oils, thinner, and linseed oil. Found some of the tubes beyond expired. But, was able to get a pallet out and go to work. This first image is over a year ago because my “Moose” coffee cup is in it, and, it broke more than a year ago. It is amazing how something can sit for such an extended period of time.

Butterflies Oil 02
Butterflies Oil 02

This picture is how the butterflies looked as they sat, waiting for me. If I don’t keep an eye on the drying rack and stacks of paintings, these poor paintings may never get done. Over a year of dust is not okay.

This year I will be doing shows to sell paintings already done. My goal is to finish all the partially painted pieces and use up all the supplies in my studio before I kick the bucket. Cleaning out the studio, recently brought a complete inventory to my attention. I could paint 24 hours a day and still not run out in a year.

Butterflies Oil 03
Butterflies Oil 03

Here is how the butterfly painting looks after a day of work. Finishing the background more fully with the blossoms and leaves better shaded. Taking each butterfly’s position and background coloring I was able to paint them in. So, the layout is pretty much set.  I am happy with the progress. But, I will have to let it dry a while before I can finish it.

Ski Lift View

The Ski Lift view always takes my breath away. This is an oil rub-out painting entitled, SunThruSnowyTreesL804, which focuses on the sun rays shooting through trees early in the morning up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington.

Sun Thru Snowy TreesOne of the most entertaining parts of skiing is the ski lift ride back up to the top of the hill. After putting some real effort out speeding through whatever terrain you are doing, you quickly slip into the lift entry gate to catch your breath. Then as you take your seat you experience a take-off into the tree heights. Up to a level where you can observe pristine quiet mountain views as you float over and through the treetops. It is a real meditation time with soft breezes and nature to the max. Some of the most peaceful and extravagantly beautiful skies and mountain scenes I have ever seen were from my seat on a ski lift. It never gets old.

First Day Back Skiing

First Day Back Skiing… in three years! YAHOOOOOO!

3 years ago, I had open-heart surgery so skiing was put on hold for quite a while. Yesterday we went skiing and I am feeling so glad to be alive. Life is SO GOOD! When you find something that makes you smile just thinking about it – go for it YEAH!

beginning oil painting of 49 degree North mountaintop 49NpanoG4306Thought you might like to see a favorite view I painted from time spent on the hill, here is a shot of the painting just started and then another of it finished. See more about a great mountain at, 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington.

Koolau’s Haiku

Koolau’s Haiku K504”,

view from mountain top path way in Hawaii
Koolaus Haiku K504

The Koolau’s Haiku painting was done from the memory of a strenuous hike I did in high school with my cousins up to the top of the Koolau mountain range at the back of Haiku valley on Oahu. I believe it is now called the “Stairway to Heaven” hike and is not open because a large storm damaged sections of it recently. You can find information about it easily by searching, “Stairway to Heaven, Hawaii”.

This hike is straight-up “literally” most of the way and is not a hike for weenies. It takes stamina and half a day to climb all the metal stairs that were installed by the military leading up to the top where there was a “naval communication cable” antennae stretched from one bunker to another bunker across the valley on the opposing ridgeline. Take food, water, and bedding but be sure to keep that pack light cause these steps do seem to be never-ending by the time you reach the top.  We were allowed to camp at the concrete bunker on the ridge leading up to the top of the mountain trail.

The next morning just a few minutes before sunrise I woke up stiff but eager to take the short walk up the path on the ridge to the very top of the Koolau’s. The top isn’t very far from the bunker (under 5 minutes). In ancient times, the runners traveled on this path stretching from the north to south of the island carrying messages between neighboring villages and the royalty. When you reach it you find that this famous route is surprisingly only a couple of feet wide with one heck of a drop off on each side. There are strong winds all the time and earth-shattering views of both sides of the island from this ancient pathway. I sat there and absorbed the history as I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise and panoramic view of the island I ever seen. It had moving rainbows appearing and disappearing randomly, a sight I will never ever forget.

Seven Horse Spirits

Seven Horse Spirits K404”,

A collection of seven horse images in a collage.
Seven Horse Spirits K404

Seven Horse Spirits is a celebration of painting the spirit of the horse using a collage of all ages, hues, and personalities. It was simply inspired by my ongoing love of the equine since early childhood. My first job was in the summer working for “Tugman’s Stable” which was within walking distance from where we lived in Kahaluu, Oahu, Hawaii. The duties included feeding, cleaning stalls, and riding beautiful ex-racehorses in the surrounding mountain paths every day. A job I really loved.

Do you know where this painting is?