Dec 29, 2009


“Main entrance, Carolina Inn”

“Cameron entrance, Carolina Inn”
9 x 12" watercolors

It’s been forever since I posted any new work here. Most of my energy between August and November went to a 100-day email newsletter featuring 100 paintings for $100 each. Check out Brenda’s Gallery 100 at if you are not yet familiar with the newsletter and its offerings.

I woke up Sunday thinking I might just stay in bed. Christmas was behind me, so the pressure was off. Or was it? Within two hours I found myself on the road to Chapel Hill, NC where the temperatures would reach the 50’s for the last time before the beautiful decorations would come down at the charming Carolina Inn. I’d already decided to paint the historic Inn, and had also determined its peak charm is at Christmastime.

I consider these studies for some larger paintings I want to do. I have plenty of photos for back-up, and the observation I did while painting these should give me the information I’ll need later to paint larger ones. The chill in the air, and sitting in partial shade set me at a pace that kept these paintings loose, which I like.

Meanwhile, back at the studio, the amaryllis exploding with blooms was beckoning me. Clicking here will take you to my Hot Off the Easel blog where I've posted the amaryllis blooms that finally had their way with me. So, for a lady who woke up with all the pressure behind her, it took no time at all before I was back in the plein air saddle.

Oct 20, 2009

N.C. State Fair plein air commission

“Fried Pickles, Anyone?”
7 x 9" watercolor

You know it’d be the South where you’d find a fried pickle. One of my old North Carolina high school chums hit the big time and now lives in Beverly Hills. In speaking of his vegan-wife, he commented, “Heck, I’m from the South, I’ve never seen anything I couldn’t fry.”

This is not the actual commission I did today at the N.C. State Fair, but a small preliminary for it. I was commissioned by the folks who own Woody's Wings to paint their concession stand. My patron already has one of my Krispy Kreme* paintings, so he figured I’d be a good candidate to paint his ultra-funky concession stand (the one with the giant Gatorade balloon on top). It’s the greatest thing when a customer/patron wants you to “do your own thing” when you take on their commission.

* Another of my Krispy Kreme paintings can be seen on the title page of my website at

Oct 18, 2009

Mountains-to-Sea Trail Celebration and Art Benefit

“Dude on Guitar”
6 x 8" watercolor

Relative to most life form subjects, musicians are fairly stationary. I love painting them en plein air. Painted this guitar player today at the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Celebration and Art Benefit. What I liked most about the benefit was that it was a benefit for the artists. No one took a percentage of our sales. Can’t beat that.

The event is now past, but if you have a mind to read more about it, please go to While you’re on my website, check out two of the plein air paintings I sold today. Portofino Trails 2 and 3 can be viewed at

Oct 10, 2009

Stick figures at the county fair

“Stick figures 1” (above) “Stick figures 2” (below)
7 x 9" watercolors

What could be more colorful than a fair? And where might you see more activity? Painting en plein air at a fair presents its challenges. But then, I don’t go there to paint portraits. The concession stands are just about the only things that stand still, but even their façades change with the onslaught of customers. Everything else is constantly moving — the rides, the people, the shadows. If you haven’t visited my Wedding Watercolors website, I invite you to go there now by clicking here.

Painting scenes like the ones at the fair, and painting animals on the loose, have given me the experience to paint weddings. My customers are the ones that don’t need everything “spelled out.” Capturing the spirit of the occasion is what my event painting is all about.

Oct 4, 2009


“Long before curtain time"
5 1/2 x 8 1/2" watercolor

The heartbeat of my hometown is the Paramount Theater. One could hardly “paint the town” in Goldsboro without painting this historic theater. Buildings on city streets can be challenging in terms of composition. They all line up so perfectly architecturally; so boringly, to the painter’s eye. I was lucky to find a parking space in front of the theater and equally lucky that for most of the time, other cars did not obstruct my view. I like the way the van in the distance stops the viewer from going right off the format. Vehicles, people, and animals all present a challenge to the plein air painter. One never knows when they might pull right out of sight.

Sep 29, 2009

Painting with a buddy

“Lou painting on Double Running Trail”
6 x 8" oil

How I adore plein air painting! Have you noticed? And how much better it can be when it’s a shared experience. Here’s my buddy Lou, painting up a storm on just about the calmest September day one might imagine. The advantages of plein air painting with one or more other people are 1) you are spending time with a kindred spirit(s), 2) you can leave your gear setting if you need to leave momentarily, 3) it’s safer. Please visit my other blog at to see several other plein air trail paintings completed this month. Be sure when you get there to scroll down, as there are three days of trail paintings posted there. Happy Painting Trails to you!

On the Plein Air Trail with Brenda Behr: Dans la voiture

On the Plein Air Trail with Brenda Behr: Dans la voiture

Famous fruit stand

View from Wilber’s Barbecue
6 x 9" watercolor

People call it the fruit stand at Wilber’s. I don’t know if the fruit stand is famous, but Wilber’s Barbecue certainly is. The dominant red vertical behind the stand is actually a neon sign for the restaurant. I’ve only done this view of the fruit stand once before. I painted it in a workshop using a photo for reference that included my mother whose eye had to be on peaches. My first year back home in North Carolina, she and I purchased so many peaches at this fruit stand that it got to the point, she would announce to me when we were out of peaches. I was still slicing peaches for her when she was on her deathbed. I am grateful now for all the peaches I have peeled and sliced.

Sep 27, 2009

Close to home

“Pumpkin time at Elroy’s
7 x 9" watercolor

Same produce market as I posted in “Best Kept Secret” on August 3. Fast forward two months, multiple mums, plus pumpkins. Having an empty parking lot on a Sunday afternoon made for a clear view of the wonderful display of autumn produce and flowers. There should, however, be a law against plein air painting, writing a newsletter and posting a blog all on the same day. Bear with me. There’s more in store tomorrow.
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Sep 12, 2009


6 x 9"

Yesterday, of course, was 9/11. It’s one of those anniversaries comparable to the assassination of JFK, in that those who were old enough will never forget. We’ll remember the time of day, the place we were at and whom we were with. And I think it’s appropriate that we don’t forget. These are days in our history that changed who we are as a nation and the course of things to come.

And so, in remembering this frightful tragedy, I took my paints to a landmark that was likely to be remembering with me, the NC State Capitol. I was in Raleigh for the day and this was the place that came first to mind.

Artists do what they do for a multitude of reasons. We want to share the beauty of what we behold, we want to share an emotion, or we want to call attention to something or to memorialize it.

The figure to the left is a monument at the Capitol of Ensign Worth Bagley, a Raleigh native who was not only the first American naval officer killed in the Spanish-American War, he was the only. Here too, is art which purpose was to memorialize.

“Observance” is available for purchase in the Original Watercolors collection of

Worth Bagley sculpture: F.H. Packer

Sep 6, 2009

El’s Drive-In

“El’s Land-In”
6x8" oil on panel

Popular hang-out in Morehead City. I painted this scene from a shaded picnic table on July 4th. The seagulls know what’s good, and where they’ll find hand-outs. I love the way they perch on top of the sign. This view of the side of the building, shows the gulls in profile, all screeching, “Eat at El’s! Eat at El’s!” Now what sign painter could beat that?

Sep 2, 2009


“Two palms and a lighthouse”
6 x 9" watercolor
available in the Original Watercolors Collection of

Not a North Carolina lighthouse, Tybee Island Light is on the coast just east of Savannah, Georgia. Last March my good friend Rita and I met there for a long weekend of sightseeing, dining, and observing the first buds of spring. Rita, a generous friend, gave me time alone so I could do some painting. What a kind gesture! Thank you, Rita!

On Sunday, three lighthouse paintings, similar in style to this one, went with me for drop-off at Carolina Creations in New Bern. In fact, this is my only remaining lighthouse, other than giclée reproductions, that is not going to be in the New Bern “Iconic Lighthouse” show at Carolina Creations. See the Events schedule on my web site for information about the show.

Sep 1, 2009

The “Old” Guthrie

“The Guthrie on Vineland”
5 x 7" watercolor

In Minnesota, it may be impolite to talk about the weather. But hey, I’m way far south of there, so maybe I can get by with it. On August 1949, Minnesota had its earliest snowfall. Say what? I have worn wool (fingerless) gloves while painting on the shore of Lake Superior in July. Say winter plein air painting in Minnesota? I don’t think so, Charlie.

I attended A Streetcar Named Desire at this Minneapolis theater in August 1974. In August 2006 I sat down on the steps of the “old” Walker Art Center, and painted this watercolor of the “old” Guthrie Theatre. I often wonder why,
over time, everything around me is getting “old”?

Today, I salute the Guthrie that used to be. Demolition began just four months after I’d done this painting. On a cold day in January 2007, the building was demolished. I remember. I was out somewhere on the Carolina Coast painting winter salt marshes en plein air.

“The Guthrie on Vineland” is available on my web site in the Original Watercolors Collection.

Aug 31, 2009


Plein Air Dragon”
6 x 9" watercolor

Oriental North Carolina. Now that’s an oxymoron.

I refer to small paintings such as this as my “postcard paintings.” In fact, that may be what drives many people to purchase them. I do try to take them beyond postcards. But, if I knew why a person purchases the art they do, I might be sitting on a beach in Monte Carlo rather than a bank in Oriental.

In an attempt to squeeze as much out of my travel and to justify all the miles on my car, I try to make it a practice to paint at least one small watercolor each time I go any distance. It adds to my enjoyment of the trip, plus it builds my inventory. And so, when I went to New Bern and Oriental yesterday to drop off artwork for
upcoming shows, I took out some time to paint. Hey, how often is it that you run across a dragon en plein air?

Oriental Dragon sculpture: Gary Gresko

Aug 29, 2009

Lap Dancer Styles

Lapdancer 1* Ladancer 2*
9x12" watercolors

How I came to paint lap dancers is a book in itself. In search of models where I could hone my drawing skills I ended up at a strip joint. The area where I live in Eastern rural North Carolina is not abundant with places to paint live models. This type of drawing/painting may seem perverse to those who have never done it, but those who have gone to a reputable art school, are well familiar with sketching from nude models. The human form is perhaps the most flexible, and yet, most challenging of all forms to duplicate in a medium other than photography.

* The two styles of the paintings above are referred to today in my email newsletter, a newsletter available for subscription by joining my Email List at

Aug 28, 2009

Paris 2004

“Notre Dame Pieta”
9 x 5.5" watercolor

Some of my plein air adventures cannot be shared. I’ve already begun some Christmas [gift] commissions, and for matters of secrecy, these need to be kept under wraps. Thus, today I’m featuring an image I painted some years ago.

I was relatively new to North Carolina when I traveled to Paris in 2004. At that time, I really did not know any local artists that I could invite to accompany me. I wanted to paint, and knew I’d need to go at a snail’s pace. And so, I invited a friend who was a candidate for knee replacement. We went slowly. She didn’t seem to mind stopping periodically so I could paint.

This is one of four images I painted while sitting on a window ledge inside the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The painting is the featured painting today on my online newsletter. Subscriptions to the newsletter are available at, or by simply clicking here.

Aug 26, 2009

Fast, faster, fastest

“Six Drummers Drumming”, 6x8" “Heron”, 6x9" “Twirling”, 7x9"

All fast, all plein air and alla prima, and all relatively small — these paintings, regardless of subject matter have much in common. I paint in different styles. I paint in a style that is often dictated by the subject I have chosen to paint. I prefer plein air painting, and so when I come upon subject matter that is either moving or risks moving, I paint fast. Sometimes my subject walks away. On location, I have painted F15 Strike Eagles in flight and was forced to take mental snapshots. Yes! There is such a thing!

I read recently somewhere, by another artist, that if you want to increase creativity, increase the speed at which you paint. You be the judge. The three paintings above were painted at different speeds, which one do you believe to be the most creative?

I conclude one thing. Painting this way is incredibly good practice, and it encourages an artist, not only to observe [more] faster, it facilitates loosening up. In much the same way that I painted these, I paint special events. Be sure to check out my WeddingWatercolor website to see how this type of painting led me down the aisle.

Aug 25, 2009

Sutton’s Drug Store

6x9" watercolor

I created this blog as an avenue for you to read about some of my plein air adventures — as they happen. This painting is an exception in that I painted it some time ago. It’s being made available today on my web site at

In the fall of 2007, I was honored by a commission from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to paint what would become the Parents Council class gift from the senior class of 2008. With all due respect, that’s a mouthful!

It was decided by that class that I would paint Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. I’ll include an image of the resulting painting below. Up and down Franlkin Street on my little canvas stool, I painted all the agreed upon hot spots. Sutton’s historic drug store was one of them. This is one of the two painting studies that remain from the project.

“Carolina Spirit: Franklin Street”
16" x 60"
now available as a smaller reproduction

Aug 22, 2009

Krispy Kreme at Peace and Person

“Krispy Kreme at Peace and Person”
6x9" watercolor

Right now, North Carolina is hotter than hot. And Krispy Kreme in Raleigh is hotter than that. Loved for its hot, deep fried, glazed dough, people go there for the taste, but also for the memories of having gone there as a child. I painted this dans la voiture yesterday, mostly because it gave me a different view than the other one I intended to do. When I finished painting, I treated myself to one of the tasty doughnuts. Afterall, the HOT light was on. In another life, one of my cooking teachers described pâté de foie gras as “the Gods copulating on your tongue.” I can say the same about hot, Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts. To say it in a less suggestive way, they are a good caloric investment. So much for starving artists.

You’re just a click away. I invite you to visit my other “Hot off the Easel” blog at

Aug 20, 2009

Dans la voiture, Part 2

“Typically Swansboro”, oil on canvas, 11x14"

“Pelican Habitat”, oil on canvas, 11x14"

Two more paintings I did dans la voiture. Both of these were painted in the winter, so I was probably escaping the cold.

I bet people wonder what I’m up to when I’m painting in the car. Last weekend on a rainy day at Topsail Beach, a patrolman stopped by. I held up my brush; told him I was painting, and asked him if someone had reported me. “No, actually, I thought it was a couple of teenagers making out,” he replied.

He also said I might want to use my defrost. I thought I was doing well to have the wipers on periodically. Best thing, he said, was to put the temperature in neutral and put on the defrost. Good way to run down the battery on a car, so one needs to remember not to leave it on indefinitely. More plein air adventures await, so I need to hit the road. Don’t forget, my other blog at

Aug 19, 2009

Dans la voiture

from top: “My dentist’s beach house”, “Sitting tall”, “Marshed” diptych, “Marsh” diptych, “Solitary egret”
oil, each panel 6x8"

What these paintings have in common is that they were all painted in the front seat of my Ford Taurus, all on rainy days. There is a term that I use commonly, en plein air; in fact it has much to do with the reason for this blog. It translates from French to “in the open air.” It is a term that was coined by the French Impressionist painters who upon the discovery of portable pigments and light being better captured outdoors, took their paintings outside where they painted on location.

So, dans la voiture is my translation into French from “in the car” or “from the car”. This will be the term I give to all paintings that I find reason to paint from my car. If any of you are French speaking experts and have a better translation, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Please visit my other blog Hot off the Easel to find additional plein air as well as studio paintings that are currently occupying my time. Thanks for visiting.

Aug 17, 2009

Surf City painting

“Tree by a marsh”
6x8" oil on panel

Just got back from a long weekend at Topsail Beach. I hope you are following my other blog at I hate to be repetitive, so I will try not to give you the same information on both blogs. I did “Tree by a marsh” Saturday afternoon after dodging thunderstorms all day Friday. The painting is as much about the marsh in the background as it is about the tree. The way the sun hits the grasses on a salt marsh in late afternoon is spectacular. They glow almost yellow.

This afternoon, I played hookey from painting, and joined friends at the movie Julie & Julia. Warning guys, it’s definitely a chic flic . But oh! So inspiring! Makes me want to blog every day. Watch out for an onslaught of new blogs accompanied by new paintings.

Aug 8, 2009

New Yorker cover art

“@ City Market”
6 1/2 x 6 1/2" watercolor

How this blog post came to be named “New Yorker cover art”, you’ll find by clicking on my other blog, Hot Off the Easel.

On the Plein Air Trail is about the process, so here goes. Painted this scene yesterday on the hot sidewalk at City Market in Raleigh. The town was gearing up for it’s First Friday event, so there was plenty of activity around me. I got some whistles over my large-brimmed hat. The hat and shades are not for glamour, but to help me deal with the sun. Oh well, a couple whistles are welcome. Even got a commission inquiry.

I have spoken to the owner of Woody’s @ City Market about painting his place. On all of my commissions, I do studies, decide what medium, size, possibly framing, etc. — beforehand. Although I have photographed this popular Raleigh establishment several times, I had never painted it. This will not be the view I use, and we haven’t even discussed size, but given his very cool website (don’t forget to come back to my blog!), and his excellent taste in art, it’s going to have to be some sort of cool painting. I’ll let you in on the progress as this commission unfolds.

Aug 4, 2009

Peace College

“View from Peace Street”
9 x 9" watercolor

It was another fast trip to Raleigh. I got a request one time for this view of Peace College, and decided it was probably worth doing again. On cooler days, I generally do two watercolors like this per setting. Not yesterday. The high temperatures dry the base coat of this type of painting almost too fast. No need to start a second painting while the base coat dries. So, I actually did four paintings yesterday at three locations.

See the new painting I did of the opening of a new Krispy Kreme shop by clicking on

Aug 3, 2009

Best Kept Secret

“How to find Elroy’s”
6 x 9" watercolor

Most of my friends buy their fresh produce at this fruitstand. This is all the signage the place has. It’s the market for Elroy’s Farm off Hwy 70, just east of Wilber’s Barbeque. I put many miles on my odometer trying to get there. So much for graphic design. Take this image with you if you want to find it. Or better yet, contact me. Buy a painting while you’re at it. Both products are made in America. Hooray!

More recent plein air paintings can be seen at my other blog. Just click

Aug 1, 2009

Hot spot on a hot day

“Now Showing”
6 x 9" watercolor

It really was a hot day. On Thursday, I delivered “The Boys” to a show in Greensboro. I made it a point to get back to Raleigh in time to do a couple of watercolors before heading home. The RIALTO Theatre in Raleigh is a landmark theatre, and where one goes if they want to see movies a little off-stream. The marquis plug, “NOW SHOWING — THE LITTLE ART GALLERY”, I gave to the wonderful little gallery in Cameron Village so supportive of my work.

Jul 29, 2009

On the Boy Scout Trail

“Camp Tuscarora Diptych”
4.25 x 12" orginal watercolor

I had absolutely no intention of painting on this outing. I was actually doing research for an upcoming commission. But give me half an hour of waiting for something to happen, and I am glad I have my watercolors with me. Some people knit, some smoke, some read; I paint. Bug spray comes into play. I carry repellent and I carry itch medicine. It’s all part of the deal. I was introduced to plein air painting in 1981 at the Minnneapolis College of Art and Design. I remember my teacher saying, “The entire experience will impact your work, even the sound of a trickling brook nearby.” This I have found to be true. It includes all the positives as well as all the negatives. Who says that ant hill that I’m standing on doesn’t speed up the process, giving the painting a freshness that it would otherwise not have?

Jul 24, 2009


“More Hot Wieners”
6 x 9" watercolor

Someone just called and asked me if I am the owner of “Touch for Much”.
“Dog grooming”, he said after I was silenced. I told him I am not. What are people thinking?!

Okay, back to the art at hand. This painting was delivered yesterday to The Little Art Gallery, the gallery in Raleigh who so well represents me. Folks actually go there to request Behr watercolors of their favorite Raleigh scenes and hangouts. I did not paint this one yesterday, but I did stop at The Roast Grill for a quick hot dog. A well known Chicago ad agency just happened to be there doing a photo shoot. When George, owner of the Roast Grill, told the photo entourage that I paint the place, they must have known an artist would be a likely ham for their photos. So folks, if you see me on national TV, chowing down a dog, do let me know.

Jul 22, 2009

Sweeter ‘n Wilber’s iced tea

“One Sunday morning”
8x10" oil on panel

“Sweeter ‘n Wilber’s iced tea” is an expression coined by a friend of mine. It’s one I wish I’d thought up. I know folks who only drink “sweet tea” if it’s Wilber’s iced tea. And nothing could be more delicious or thirst quenching in the heat of summer in Carolina. And nothing could be more quiet than a Sunday morning in Carolina, unless, of course, you’re in church. I chose to paint the scene above before the Sunday crowd. Wilber’s is never this quiet. The place is world famous. Before it was so famous, in 1965, I went on my first dinner date at Wilber’s. Little did I know that one day I’d be painting it. Go to Wilber’s most days, and you’ll be standing right under the F-15 Strike Eagle jets as they zoom their way back to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. I love the contrast of the high technology in the sky with the barbeque joint and its fruitstand on the ground.

Jul 19, 2009

More feathered friends

“Sitting Tall”
6x8" oil on panel

A Minneapolis friend has tried to point out the humor in my work. I find it in some of my art; not in all. This one, seems, definitely, to have that humor. Found these seagulls sitting fat and happy near an operating fish house on the coast. They were the biggest seagulls I’d ever seen. As it was raining outside, I painted it in my lap, inside my car. Thinking about calling this type of painting en plein auto. Will run this idea by my cousin in France.

Jul 12, 2009

Independence Day Escapade

July 4, Atlantic Beach
6x8" oil on panel

Sorry for the absence folks. A friend was good enough to invite me to stay with her on the coast at Atlantic Beach for a week. I painted several small oils. Love the way small formats have a way of making my brushes bigger! I’ll post another of these small oils just so I can tell you the story of an unsinkable brush.

Sitting on the dock, totally immersed in the painting below, I did the unthinkable. I flicked my favorite brush right into the water several feet below. And then it was my brush that did the unthinkable — it floated! Vertically! I hope that there were no fishermen watching me. I stretched my entire body and legs far enough off the dock to fish out the brush with my toes. And dropped it! But then, with even greater determination, I was able to repeat my action and fish it out. I have lost brushes to the water before. This time I got lucky.

Soft light on rugged boats
6x8" oil on panel

Jun 30, 2009

Paint Out at Howell Woods

“This Way and That”
4x6" oil on panel

Several times I have joined a group of plein air painters organized by watercolor artist Lin Frye, in Johnston County. Last week, our destination was Howell Woods, an environmental learning center, owned and operated by Johnston County Community College. Although there are 2800 acres of natural habitat that include egrets and herons, I got involved with several chickens near a weathered old tobacco barn. A chicken, kinda like happiness, will somehow avoid you if you chase it, but if you ignore it, and find something that you enjoy, it’s likely to come right up to you, and entertain you. I know there’s a better known analogy of happiness to a butterfly, but I’ll stick with chickens for now.

So the tobacco barn drew me, but the chickens became so cooperative, that I couldn’t resist painting a few of them. Anyone interested in tobacco barn paintings needs to contact me. I did two small paintings during the paint out, but have several large oils available, plus at least one watercolor.

Jun 29, 2009

Small world story

“Sidewalk view of City Hall”
14x18" watercolor

Painting people and cars en plein air is tricky. You have to paint them fast as you never know when one of them will pull out, walk away, or just plain disappear. In this case, the SUV that I'd put in the base coat of this watercolor, did pull out. I began to hope and pray another van would pull in to take its place. So when a SUV pulled in across the street, I gave the driver a look where she really knew she was doing something wrong. Good soul that she was, when I explained what was going on, she was kind enough to re-park her vehicle. Here's the rest of the story — this same lady, it turns out, just by coincidence, owns one of my paintings! You never know. I like to think that all the people who own my paintings are good people.

Interested in this painting? It will be going in a mat and frame and on display at Carolina Creations in New Bern.

Jun 27, 2009

Wedding Near Asheville

“Reception on the Hillside”
9x12" watercolor

Wow, time flies! I had the opportunity this month to attend a sweet wedding near Asheville, NC. And yes, although, this was not a commission, I did paint. Read more about this adventure at WeddingNearAsheville. The bride and groom couldn’t have found a more beautiful setting. The foothills and mountains of the Smokies are breathtakingly gorgeous.
More of my wedding and event paintings can be seen at