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.