Love Land


Landscape painters have a special relationship to land.

Love Land Notes

I’ve had a love for land as long as I can remember. Living in Florida makes that fairly unique. Most artists in Florida focus on coastal, marshes, boats and marinas. Most of our tourist population loves that sort of work. They consider that to be quintessential Florida. They visit Miami, Walt Disney World and coastal resorts like FT Lauderdale, Naples and Sarasota.


Few see the lush pastures and fields of central Florida, the piney woods or the bald and pond cypress groves, ancient and mysterious.  The stately , huge live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Vast cattle ranches with cabbage palms stretch as far as the eye can see. This is my world as an artist.


Each day, I walk Deer Woods Trail, next to my yard. It is quite small but lush with tall pines, water oaks, and knee high grasses. There are tortoise dens along the route, some carefully crafted with many hours of work invested. I name some of my tortoise friends and see them out sunning and grazing occasionally. I find deer tracks, coon tracks, and occasionally fox and bobcat tracks. The raptors fly overhead sizing up the breakfast menu, and crows fly by either cawing or saying un-uh. They usually reserve that speech for my painting days on the trail, expressing their disapproval.


I walk in these woods twice a day, morning and late afternoon just before dusk. They bring back memories of childhood play and drawing out under the trees, making forts and tree house studios. The land of my father is rich with subjects to paint. I could paint in north Florida for a hundred years and never come close to completing what I wish to study. When you love the land, you paint it with great joy.  If you love city streets, coastal waves, beaches or still life, study it, become immersed in it, spend time with it without your paint, and you will have a better understanding of being a  painter.

More musings for artists and collectors to come……

Plein Air Fun


I enjoyed some plein air painting with my students.

Plein Air Fun Notes

Once a month I have a plein air group who come out to the woods to paint with me.  It is a peaceful setting and we enjoy the process together. After a couple of hours of painting, we adjourn to my studio to talk about our painting session and I give them tips about processing on location.

I have painted on location for many long years. I confess that I don’t have the same fire for it as I did as a young painter. I spent ten years painting only alla prima en plein air and I found that my brushwork deteriorated over that ten years.  I found that my work reached a certain primitive stage, and went no further. It was only after I returned to the studio that my work dramatically improved.

I realize that plein air is all the rage these days. I helped develop it in Florida in the early 2000’s. I consulted on many of the early paint outs in Florida. I did paint outs for about 15 years around the south. At one time I belonged to most of the southern plein air groups and co- founded Plein Air Florida. Somehow, all of the hoopla and hype drove me away.

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I found myself back in the woods, first at Fair Oaks estate and then on my own land. I went back to landscape painting as it should be, without the carnival atmosphere, without promotors insisting on sales, without guests dressed in finery, there to show off their expensive jewelry and toys, caring little for the art.

I also learned that a walk in the woods and fields, looking at light and shadow, color and beauty is the best plein air there can be. Observation for an hour is worth ten hours of painting on site. I love the experience of land, birds and animals more than any painting time. I still enjoy being out with my paint box but it should not be the end all of landscape painting.

My best work is in the studio and it always has been. Thinking, designing, and processing in a deliberate fashion is my best way of painting. Studio landscape painting has been pushed aside in favor of plein air because of the clever marketing machine. Truth is that the best plein air painters respect and love studio work too. They can be a wonderful partnership and they certainly are for me.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…

Style Issues


You don’t find your style, it finds you.

Style Issues Notes

I get lots of questions from students and beginning artists about finding their style. It is my opinion that you don’t find style. It is like searching for one star in billions. Style finds  you when you are ready for it. It is unpredictable and ephemeral, never easy to describe. People tell me they would know my work anywhere, even after evolving for 50 years. I never looked for style. I was too busy trying desperately to figure out what to do with paint on canvas for many years. It found me at about 50 years old, when I least expected it.


I found style when I found my life’s purpose in painting. I grew up in north Florida around farms and ranches. My Daddy played golf and hung around with the local cattlemen and I tagged along to their ranches. I love trees, even then. I spent most of my time climbing them and wondering at the nature of the world. My friend had a farm and I spent time there with her as well. When I was about 16, Momma and Daddy bought land away from the city. We bought horses and raised a few beef cattle. Life was wonderful on the farm. I still live on that land and that is where my working studio is.  I settled on rural lands as my life’s body of work after art school and traveling some. That is when my style settled in for the long haul.


I believe one needs to settle in to what they truly love before style moves into their work. A painter has to believe in their work, their subject, and the mission to share it, before those shoes fit. That may not be true for anyone else but it is surely true for me. Without a purpose and mission, I would  be drifting along with no big ideas or focus. This is very important for landscape painters. We must be joined with the land we love and it must have deep meaning for us. I learned all this during my residency for eight years at an estate called Fair Oaks. I love that land like no other. I learned about land management, how seasons change and how humans can enhance good land with responsible stewardship instead of destroying and defacing it.  It was the best lesson for landscape painting I could have ever asked for and it shaped my style into what it is today.


My advice to new painters is to experiment, learn everything possible and forget about your style. it will find you when you have earned it.

More musings for artists and collectors to come……

Pet Companions


Our pet companions run the studio.

Pet Companions Notes

Pet Companions are the best studio mates. I have a canary named Bubba and a goldfish named Murphy who keep me company in my office. Henry, my French bulldog runs my studio. He is my time keeper and scheduler, knowing when it is time to leave the office in the morning and go out to the studio. He knows exactly when to leave the studio and break for lunch, knows when it is nap time, back to studio time, when I need to take my walks every day and when to go to bed. He keeps me on a tight schedule. I never need a watch at the studio. Henry knows all. He doesn’t like things out of place in the studio either. If I leave a big box sitting around, Henry barks at it until I pick it up and move it.


Henry likes to have his bed right next to my easel and naps while I work. My canary sings and tweets to me while I work at the computer. My fish Murphy does what ever he wants, having no care about my business at all. Pets keep us entertained, they make us work and they love our paintings. We can’t do without them lounging around the business of art.

Pets also become stars in their own right. When I had a loft studio in town, Henry used to go to work with me every Wednesday. He welcomed visitors and gave out dog bones to pet owners and autograph paw prints. He had a huge following. People came regularly to visit with him. I found that he was much more popular than I was and each week, I could count on the most visitors on Wednesday. I really miss that. There is a studio dog at Paddiwhack now named Tulip. She is territorial and doesn’t want other dogs there, so Henry stays home. Someday I hope to be able to have him at my town studio again.

I think pets enhance our lives as artists greatly. I would be lost without my pet companions. They are like a vacation from daily routine. I believe my pets make me a better person and a better artist.

More musings for artists and collectors to come.



Renewal of art and soul refreshes our spirit.

Renewal Notes

Renewal of art and soul brings new life to our spirit. All artists suffer losses and disappointments in their careers. They can come when you least expect them. You go along, secure in your habits, the places you love to paint, the teaching position you might have, the gallery that sells well for you. Suddenly, everything changes. Galleries close, teaching gigs end, the place you love most in the world becomes suddenly unavailable. All of these things have happened in my career from time to time. A few of them, like losing access to my favorite place in the world, can really set you back for some time.

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All of these problems are temporary or not, depending on your ability to be flexible and positive about your life as an artist. The way to overcome losses is to get busy planning your next idea. Give yourself a 24 hour pity party and then get some ideas together for your next gig. I believe there is nothing more important for happiness than a sense of purpose and a plan for the future. I can never remember a time in my life that I didn’t have a new plan. I am very mission oriented. I have learned to shut doors on failures, disappointments, and losses. When something ends, I try not to look back. I don’t always succeed but I do try hard.

After you work on your spirit and your plans, turn to your art and consider whether it is time to renew it as well. I don’t think it is healthy to hold onto work for too long. There are ways to repurpose art that is less than perfect. I have done all kinds of things with older paintings, from bookmarks,cutting up paintings, repurposing them into little abstract paintings. Sometimes I leave small paintings around the studio with a sign on them that says Congrats! You found the original give away painting. People appreciate these very much. I have had people come back later and purchase a painting, because they were so delighted to find the giveaway.

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I sell a small Make an Offer painting on Friday each week and then a larger one for the whole month. These are good paintings that have not sold for whatever reason on the retail gallery market. People love to win them and they are able to own original art that they could not afford to buy at retail. Some times the price goes up quite well on these MAO paintings.

Getting busy with a new series of paintings, or a new technique does wonders for your spirit if it has taken a beating. Sometimes stopping long enough to clean off my desk or tidy up the studio, is just what I need to feel refreshed and ready to start the next adventure. In other words, get over it and get busy!

More musings for artists and collectors to come…..

Teacher Surprise


Teacher Surprise Notes

I am such a lucky artist. I had a wonderful teacher surprise today. This is my last weekend of teaching at Michaels. My students arrived at lunch time with a huge meal. We had a massive chicken Caesar salad from Conestogas Restaurant (Thank you Donna), a wonderful light lemon cake, walnut banana cake, homemade banana pudding (thanks Kathy) and Artichoke dip (thanks Marsha). There was a lovely card, signed by all. I was deeply touched by their thoughtfulness and kindness.

These friends have been with me for some time and several of them come out to my studio a couple times a month. They have become much more than students to me. they are my valued and honored friends. I am so grateful and lucky to have them in my life. They are greatly responsible for my continued research and development as a painter. I have to grow and learn if I am to help them.

This is probably going to be my last year for classes. I am gradually moving to online teaching. It is much easier and my students get one on one attention across the miles. I can teach in my pajamas or work on the lessons and critiques in the middle of the night if I wish to. My online students seem to like it too. It is a fun, no pressure way to teach.

There is a rhythm to teaching. The classes go up and down. People come and go. Many artists become disappointed with their teachers because they don’t feel that they are painting as well as they should be. It is rarely the teacher’s fault. Painting is really hard work. It takes years of practice and self discipline. It takes hours and hours of practice and even then, we often fail in a painting. There is a perception that taking lessons or doing paint parties is going to make you a great painter, like snapping your fingers. Many think that their teacher is failing them if they don’t turn out great paintings in class. They don’t consider that an excellent artist and teacher, has studied hard and long to become proficient. A woman came in today to my classroom and informed me that her teacher had done four hundred paintings. I do about 400 paintings a year myself. I am not an expert, even after 58 years, degrees in fine art and endless practice. I am still a student and always will be.


Being a life long student is the key to being a good painter. There is no need for big egos in this quest. I have nothing to prove. The best painters I know are the most generous and kind. They have nothing to prove. Teachers have a huge responsibility to be generous and encouraging to students; not to play favorites or belittle their students. Big egos have no place in the classroom.

I will miss my Michaels students and I wish them every success.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Demonstration Fun


Demonstration Fun Notes

Many of you know that my teaching position at Michaels ends this weekend. That frees up time for me to get into some demonstration fun. I’ll do a demonstration painting at my Michaels studio on the first Saturday each month at 2 PM. I’ll serve snacks and a drink. I’ll welcome collectors, students and anyone who would like to watch. We will enjoy a little party each month.

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Demonstrations are a wonderful way to build interest in your paintings and to entertain viewers. It is important to make the demo a fun experience. The painting itself is not your main focus. Your audience is. It takes practice to successfully demo for an audience. I have spent many years painting in front of viewers, at paint outs, store demos at Michaels, street painting in resort areas, and so forth.

Be prepared to answer many questions as you process through a painting. Artists will want to know your color mixtures, what kind of brushes you are using, why you put stokes in various parts of the painting? Collectors will want to know sizes, mediums, how to frame, what makes you decide on what to paint, how long does a painting take?


This is not going to be your best painting. You can pre-practice for the event. Do the scene you plan to do for the demo in advance and then you will know how to process at the event time. I used to do that too. Now, I have painted for others for so long, I like to wing it. Don’t be upset if you make mistakes, use them as a teaching tool. I make mistakes all the time. I own up to them and correct as I go. It helps me to explain what I should have done.

Have your materials ready at least 30 minutes before you begin. Have your set up ready and relax for a few minutes to get your thoughts in order. I usually use my paint box on a tripod, with a small table for my palette, brushes, paints, and mediums. Bring a plain shower curtain liner if you need to cover carpet. Greet your visitors as they arrive and wait until all are settled before you begin. Be sure to thank them in advance and tell them what you will be painting. Decide whether you want to converse during the process or ask visitors to hold questions until the end.

Explain as you go, stepping to the side of the easel during the process to allow the viewers full view. I will usually take a break or two for a few moments to talk with the viewers as I paint. I usually do an 8×10-12×16 size range. Working small takes the pressure off you to finish in a time period, but also makes an affordable painting for the crowd to buy. I don’t ask for the sale but often requests are made. You can sell unframed or have a frame ready for installation.

Getting ready and marketing in part two tomorrow.

More to come…..

Training Research


Training research is an essential part of growth.

Training Research Notes

Training research is part of my routine as a painter. I constantly try new ideas and techniques in my studio. Sometimes the ideas don’t pan out. Sometimes the technique becomes part of my frequent routines. One of the reasons I use two mediums, oils and acrylics, is because they act as cross overs for technique. I will learn something with oils, and the lightbulb goes off for new techniques in acrylics. Sometimes I go through bad stages with a medium. I will switch to the other for while and upgrade my skill there. After awhile, I will wander back to the other medium and do the same.

To learn new technique, I will study it through various resources like Utube or articles. If I can’t find anything, I just soldier on with the process for myself. I have spent up to two years studying a theme or method at a time. Once I have it straight in my mind, I start painting and go through the process, taking notes along the way and improving my methods as I go. I rarely stick to the same method for long without being attracted to something different. I always go back to these methods to keep them fresh, while continuing to learn new technique.

I know painters who have not grown in years. They are very good at what they do, as anyone would be who practices the same technique continually, but they do not grow. I feel like there is limited time for my career and I want to learn as much as I can, even if it means a lot of less than perfect paintings. I have themes that I return to, like trees, clouds and so forth, hoping with each iteration they will improve.

Right now I am working on over glazes of four color underpaintings. I started with thee oils and transparent glazes with my students in the oil painting group. That has been fun but not entirely satisfactory for my own efforts. I have had more success in the past with that method. I switched over to acrylics for thee study and that has worked very well. There is something about over glazing the under painting that allows a great deal of freedom in that middle ground area of the painting, between block in and refinement.  I have more to learn from this and I am liking the results.


Research is so important to growth.

More to come….

Professional Reliability


Professional reliability is a must for artists who make a living from painting.

Professional Reliability Notes

Collectors and fans expect professional painters to be reliable and responsible. They expect artists to be on time for events and meetings. They expect to see a tidy and organized studio when they visit. Corporate and business relationships depend on good impressions of artists.

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Professional artists should use quality products for their best work. This is no place for student grade materials. I use student grade for my studies, which I sell at a lower price, unframed, but I make it no secret that these are lower quality materials and I always explain that they are browse bin studies. I would never use any materials that are not top quality for my framed paintings or my commissions. it is important for collectors to know what they are getting for the higher price they pay for quality work. Will the studies last for years? Yes, they will. I have some that are 50 years old, done with student grade materials, but selling high end work with low grade materials is unfair to collectors.


Artists have a poor reputation in our society. Many of them are unproductive, airheads, tardy for every event, offer haphazard and sloppy framing, and are unable to explain their process or work to potential collectors. Some have ridiculous narcissistic personalities and expect to be treated royally because they are ARTISTES. Don’t bother to write scathing notes or comments to me. I hear this constantly from business people and corporate types.  I have seen this behavior countless times at paint outs, gallery openings and other events.  I have dealt with this behavior at art shows I helped to curate myself.

The best way to overcome this poor reputation is to be professional in all of your dealings with others. Sure, all of us make mistakes and are thoughtless from time to time. I am very guilty as are others, but I don’t make it a habit. I do my best to rectify the problem and apologize for my mistakes. Like others, we are overworked and have many tasks to remember. The best way I have to keep up with my responsibilities is by using my calendar and planner effectively and doing my Sunday night to do list for the week ahead. I try to use the highest quality materials, frame properly, with solid hardware, and to show up on time, whatever the situation might be. If I can’t do something, I ask for help or I ask a friend to assist me. I don’t just ignore problems or responsibilities and hope they will go away. Your reputation is what makes you different from a hundreds of other artists. Being dependable is everything if you want collectors.

More to come…..


Doors Open and Close

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Doors open and close in all careers. It doesn’t have to be terrible.

Doors Notes

Doors open and close throughout our careers as artists. When I was a young painter, I thought every set back was the end of my career. It was not, of course. Today I resigned from my wonderful teaching  position at Michaels, due to some corporate changes that were out of my control. My last Michaels classes with be this Friday and Saturday, 10 AM and 1 PM. I had just started a new and swell schedule at the store in January. I had many wonderful students who were regulars there, and many who had moved on to my more advanced classes or out on their own. I loved the classroom, my management team, and the staff at the store. Everyone was kind and helpful. I will miss it greatly. With regret, it is time to move on.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do in the event of this issue. I found out about the changes in December and so I’ve had some time to reflect n the next challenge. I will continue to teach three classes a month at my own studio, and will take on a beginning class to replace the Michaels class if enough of my students are willing to make the drive. I’ll wait and see about that. I also enjoy my private online students and we explore the world of painting on Mondays. I’ve been doing a lot of research into four color paintings with top glazing methods lately and I find that I really like the process, particularly with acrylics. I might want to teach a group with that process in mind. I continue to look for a more appropriate studio for teaching in Gainesville as a future possibility.



I have also become quite interested in making this blog a more important part of my career. I’ve added some affiliate companies that I market for and so when readers click and buy from the companies, I get a little bit. This blog has been part of my career for as long as blogging has been around. I think it is time to write more often, to make it useful for others and to help them with their art careers as well. I’ve been blogging about every day lately and sharing it with others. Many have asked me to write a book about the many experiences I’ve had as a painter and art marketer. I feel this blog fills that request. Writing short notes like this is the style of writing I enjoy. Sharing life as a landscape painter with readers makes me happy, and it hopefully helps a lot of other painters who struggle with the same issues I do.  The new door may be just writing more, and researching painting more.


Something new and wonderful happens almost everyday as long as we pay attention to see it.

More to come……