Orange Lake, More Process

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Here I am at the next stage of the painting. I know that I will want to put a few more trees on the left side of the painting so that it is not right hand heavy. I have painted this view many times over the last 15 years or so. The unique difficulty of this particular place, is the steep drop off of the hill. It is always a challenge to make the two areas flow together from the foreground to the middle ground. I think I have the color where I will want to take it. Most of the painting is going toward the cool gray end of my palette, but will have a bit of warmth in the foreground. Not as much as you see here, more subtle. More on this painting to come….

Quick Hospitality

Given that Southern hospitality is a way of life here in the South, I tend to keep some basics around to make a quick snack for studio visitors. I sometimes need to throw something together at a moment’s notice.
Some of the items I keep handy are:

a variety of pickles

jars of olives




cream cheese

canned meats


sour cream



canned fish, like Salmon and Albacore

sliced turkey and ham



Cans of black beans or refried beans



A bottle or two of wine. I like to use the mini bottles that come in 6 packs

a 12 pack of any soft drink brand.

bottled water

That is really all you need to make quite a nice variety of snacks.

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Here is a nice quick dip that is delicious.

1 pouch of smoked tuna (Starkist), or smoked mullet from the fish monger

8 oz cream cheese

1 teaspoon minced or dried onion

cracked pepper

1/4 cup mayo

Chopped parsley

and lemon wedges for garnish.

Mix it all up and serve with toasted bagel chips or crackers.

I keep bagels in the fridge because they make great toast points for dips. I slice them as thinly as possible and spread them with a bit of margarine or soft butter. Then sprinkle them with garlic salt and toast them in the oven. You can break them in bite sized pieces. They are more tasty than crackers and look more impressive.

Series of paintings In Studio

I travel a lot. I do lots of alla prima studies on small formats when I am away from home and I take a lot of photos on the road. I also spend a fair amount of time looking for domain free images of places that interest me.

When I get back home for the summer, I spend time working on series of paintings about the places I discover on the road. I have always believed that working through a series on subjects is a great way to paint and to learn.

Of course I have my favorite places and themes that I go back to over and over again for years. I have always loved painting at a couple of farms in Marion County in Florida. I have done hundreds of paintings there and will do hundreds more if God is willing.

The same goes for Cross Creek and the fish camps around the lakes here in North Florida. Florida’s rivers are also a favorite theme for me. I tend to rotate around to different areas of interest, revisiting them every few month. I always have a new vision when I return and something different to say with the paintings.

At one time I relied only on plein air work as my strength but that has changed. I now use the plein air work as a reference for my serious paintings in the studio. I still feel that plein air work is very important as a learning tool. It keeps my work fresh and I learn a lot about light and value on location, but it is lacking in finesse for me and my composition suffers on location. Composition and design is a difficult part of painting and best left in the studio for me.

Food Glorious Food

Today I want to talk about one of my regular spots to eat, Pearl Country Store in Micanopy, Florida. It is a combination gas station, convenience store and restaurant. It has no redeemable atmospheric qualities but it is clean and the food is wonderful. It is a basic menu of all your favorite breakfast foods, hamburgers/fries and the best BBQ around. The ribs are huge and meaty, dripping with sauce. Lots of seasoning on the meat. Thy also have great pulled pork sandwiches, various vegetables, homemade mac and cheese, and homemade desserts. The store itself is full of interesting bottled hot and BBQ sauces, books about Florida, as well as the usual convenience store fare. It is located at the caution light on US 441 in Micanopy.

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Red Velvet Cake

Cake: 2 cups sugar 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature 2 eggs 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 2 ounces red food coloring 2 1/2 cups cake flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon vinegar

Icing: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese 1 stick butter, softened, 1 cup melted marshmallows, 1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into 3 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.

Icing: Blend cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl. Add marshmallows and sugar and blend. Spread between layers and on top and sides of cooled cake.

Discovery about Process

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Colorful Mountains
12×16 inches
mixed media on panel

Process in Plein Air vs Studio

Saturday, I tried my mixed media out on location for the first time. I took casein’s out with me and did the under painting in the field. The results were less than I had hoped for. This process has worked so very well for me in the studio that I was just sure it was going to be great on location too. In fact, it was disappointing. The compositions were weak and the paintings took much too long. I got completely bogged down in tight detail and lost the whole painting process. The first painting looked illustrative. The second was better but neither were what I hoped for.

I think it will be best to leave this painting technique in the studio. I have lots of time in studio to play with the composition, tweaking the under painting the way I want it. There is no pressure in the studio. I am not as distracted.

When I paint on location, I always feel pressure. I feel the need to work quickly and get it done. The direct method of painting will be far better out on location, so I will go back to using my oils out in the field.

It is always interesting to try new techniques and I truly love the mixed casein with transparent oils. It will be a fine studio method to continue with.

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Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken is essential to Southern cooking. It is so much a part of out lives. I can’t imagine life with out it!!! There are a million fried chicken recipes. My favorite restaurant fried chicken is found at a place called the Dixie Grill in Live Oak, Florida. I discovered it a few years ago when I used to go over to the Live Oak Artist League Gallery. It was right across the street from the Dixie Grill on the main drag through town. I believe that is US 90.

Their chicken is golden brown, crisp and salty on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. When you cut into it the juices run out and it is steamy. It is absolutely delicious. The also have a fabulous open faced hot roast beef sandwich with crisp french fries which is a delight. It has rich brown gravy on top. Too good for words. Anyhoo, back to the chicken…….

Whenever I am feeling a bit low about the state of the world, I fry chicken. It is the most lovely and comforting activity I can think of. My recipe is quite simple. I don’t use a thick buttermilk batter like a lot of cooks do. I like to add my standard season mix to flour in a bag. I toss the chicken pieces in the flour and then refrigerate them for a few minutes while I get the cast iron skillet fired up. I add about an inch of olive oil to the pan. ( The best chicken is fried in lard but my doctor won’t let me have that kind of fun anymore) I take the chicken out and flour it a second time. I heat the cast iron skillet to medium heat and place the pieces in the hot oil. I fry the chicken, turning it in different places in the skillet to fry evenly. It should not be rushed. When it is done, I put the chicken on paper towels to drain and then put it in the oven while I finish making the mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy in the skillet.

For gravy, pour off most of the oil and make a roux with a bit of seasoned flour and the drippings, Stir it until light brown and the flour is incorporated. De glaze the pan with a bit of white wine. Add a can of chicken stock. Stir until smooth and creamy. You can add a bit of cream to make it richer if you wish. Add a bunch of fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. Add a pinch of leaf thyme for flavor.

My Adventure

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Town and Country Farm
8×10 inches
mixed media on panel

Painters Journal

Yesterday I spend the day painting at Town and Country Farm with my old friend Elisabeth Ferber from Orlando. We started the day at Pearl Country Store in Micanopy, Florida for a big breakfast and then headed for my favorite place to paint, one of the farms in that area. We were seeking shade. We parked ourselves under magnificent old trees and happily painted the day away. Around 2:00 PM we headed for lunch at Rocky’s Villa in Orange Lake. It’s a really cool restaurant that serves Mexican and Italian food. I had the Sicilian Pasta which was spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, and fresh tomatoes. Yummy. She had ahot sub with grilled mushrooms, peppers and onions in olive oil.

I had not painted on location since May, so it was a bit of a challenge for me, getting back into it.

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Here is my favorite Alfredo Sauce recipe. I got it from the sous chef at Toby’s Corner, now closed. His name was Tim King. He was an awesome cook and a delightful friend.

Tim’s Alfredo Sauce

1 1/2 quarts heavy cream
1 pound of butter
3 oz chopped fresh parsley
1/2 T salt
1/2 T coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 T chopped fresh garlic
1 pound Parmesan cheese
1 T corn starch to thicken if needed

This recipe can be cut down into smaller batches

Melt butter, add cream and then all ingredients except the cheese. Bring to boil and then add cheese stirring constantly until smooth and creamy. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with cheese. Yummy!!!

Stone Bridge Part Two

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Stone Bridge
12×16 inches
mixed media on panel

Painters Journal

Imagine my surprise and delight to find myself the featured painter on Robert Genn’s The Painters Keys web site today. HERE He had printed my response to his letter and I am always honored when he includes my unwise words. Then I scrolled down to see who he had selected for this week’s featured painter and it was me!!!!! I never imagined that!!

I am going out on a plein air adventure tomorrow with an old friend, Elisabeth Ferber from Orlando. A terrific painter. We will have breakfast together first and then paint at the farms in Marion County. I’m looking forward to it.

This is the second phase of the painting. I have used transparent oils for this stage. I use Shiva Permasol brand paints very thinly for multiple layers. Sometimes I will pull off parts of the oil glaze or use opaque paints to highlight an strengthen contrast in some parts of the painting.

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Dessert Sauce
8×10 inches
casein on paper

This is one of the quick easy recipes which make ice cream and other desserts taste yummy.

It is great for poached fruit and flaky pastries.

I worked for a great restaurant in Gainesville, Florida years ago called Toby’s Corner. It was owned by Diane and Ed Toby. I was their dessert chef. I have fond memories of this restaurant. We used to crank up James Brown full blast on the speakers every night after the restaurant closed. It was a fun kitchen crew.

Dessert Sauce

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 jar ice cream topping- caramel, chocolate or butterscotch

2 oz liqueur- Baileys, Amaretto, coffee are all good choices.

Stir it all up and serve.