Nov 14, 2010


“The third floor
6x9" watercolor

Friday night was the official opening of On the Plein Air Trail with Brenda Behr at Carolina Creations in New Bern, NC. In 2003, I found this [very] fine art and craft gallery soon after my return to North Carolina. It might well be the finest gallery of its type in the entire state. Word has it that co-owner Janet Francouer hand selects every single item right down to each of the greeting cards. I love her taste of humor and whimsy.

Here’s a link to the paintings in the show if you are one of those living too far to travel to New Bern. If, on the other hand, you want a really splendid Christmas shopping adventure, I advise you go the extra mile.

I did my very first night painting en plein air Friday night while standing outside Carolina Creations. Janet’s husband and business partner, Michael Fracouer, rigged me up with some lighting. I’m happy with the resulting painting. I’ll be sharing it on my newsletter that will come out tomorrow. Not a subscriber? Click here.

Janet and Michael graciously invited me to be an overnight guest in their home Friday night after the festivities. What an honor! If I could afford it, theirs is how I would decorate my home, and I would call it BrendaLand. It’s full of art and color and whimsy. If I didn’t love my life so much, I’d be mad with jealousy.

Had to paint the other view. I’m in love with the apple green bookcase you see on the right. It’s from a line of “Dust Furniture” that is carried at Carolina Creations. I think the name of the line should be Drunk Furniture. If you agree (or disagree) and like the look, just click on the name I’ve given it.

“Room with a bookcase”
9x7" watercolor

Nov 11, 2010

Losing the muse

 “Rear View”
“Holding it in”
 “Dos Oreos”
“Solo Oreo”

Yesterday the Lord of Plein Air commanded me, “Go to your room and paint twenty cow paintings.” I painted twenty-four.

When most artists lose their muse, they paint dogs. I paint cows. After spending a frustrating two hours trying to find parking near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I decided I’m outta here and drove up to Fearrington Village near Pittsboro. Painting in the country sounded real appealing to me. Amongst other things, Fearrington Village is known for its Galloway cows, cows that appear to have white corsets around their mid sections. For this reason, they’ve acquired the nickname “Oreo Cows”. Click Mooving subjects to see my attempt earlier this year to paint them in oils.
Painting live animals on location has its challenges. As the afternoon moved on, my sketches became more anatomically correct. Focusing on shapes and the relationship of body parts, one to the other, was key.

Nov 6, 2010


“Lovers at the Cow Cafe”
7x9" watercolor

I do not include people as subjects in my plein air paintings because I’m interested in watching their activities, albeit those activities can sometimes be interesting. If I’m in close proximity to the people I want to include in a painting, I will tell them my intent, and make sure it’s okay with them that I paint them. If, however, the people are across the room, such was the case here, I can generally get by unnoticed.

I could write a romance novel based on my observations of the scene above. He couldn’t keep his hands off her; by the time they left, she’d let her hair down; they didn’t let the table come between them and their embrace. Oh my!

Here is a case where I went to the most family-oriented of cafés, the Cow Café in New Bern, and found there a couple deeply emerged in each other. I had been expecting a bunch of kids that wouldn’t stay still long enough to be included in a painting. (Notice the dad and his daughter to the left of the lovers.)

Sketching people in public places can be great practice for an artist. People, cars and animals move, and so capturing them can speed up your observation and drawing process. There are no model fees. You can meet people this way. If the drawing turns out, and you’re feeling generous, they’ll appreciate the drawing as a gift — on and on.

Nov 3, 2010

Carolina Creations Fine Art & Contemporary Craft: On the Plein Air Trail with Brenda Behr

Carolina Creations Fine Art & Contemporary Craft: On the Plein Air Trail with Brenda Behr

Movin’ on up

“The Guesthouse”
6 1/2 x 9" watercolor

I’ve painted the B&B and hotel rooms; now I’ve painted the guesthouse where I was so graciously accommodated in Beaufort last week. Years ago a TV show called The Jeffersons had the theme song called “Movin on Up”. I looked for it on YouTube as possible audio accompaniment to today’s blog post. I won’t go there.

Notice the whites left in the painting. I’ve taken many workshops by former students of the great watercolorist Edgar Whitney. And many of them have passed down quotes from the master. “Your whites are your Ace card” is one of them. In this quote, he was making reference to the white of the paper. With watercolors, this is really the only legitimate white.

Nov 2, 2010

Santa’s coming

“Steve and Ivie’s house”
7x10" watercolor

Ho de doe ho! Santa’s around the bend!
So, I’m not a poet, or a songwriter. But Santa really is just around the corner.

It would have been hard for me to leave the lovely Inn on Oak Street had I not been returning to quaintly beautiful Beaufort [SC]. My hosts Jerry and Ray had extended their gracious invitation to include the following weekend. And besides, Jerry was interested in commissioning me to paint her daughter’s house. And so here you are folks, Ivie and Steve’s lovely home in Habersham, an upscale development in Beaufort.

Notice the white trim. Normally, my calligraphic watercolor style does not lend itself to this kind of white crispness. I decided the trim, however, was so much a part of the character of the house that it needed to be depicted. To accomplish this, I did a base coat of watercolor that was a combination of wet and dry. Dry in the areas where I wanted to maintain my whites; wet in the areas where I wanted the colors to meld together. I feel good about the result. The next posting will include a painting in which I used this same approach. I may be onto something. With a major show of my calligraphic watercolors coming up next year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this breakthrough did not arrive too soon.

So you ask, where did Santa hop off his sled? The painting of Ivie’s house is a gift from her mom. Smart mom, she checked first to see if her daughter would be good with one of my paintings. Glad she is. Jerry’s candidness with her daughter also explains why this painting is not still under wraps.

Nov 1, 2010

Bedroom paintings

“The Treehouse”, 6x9" watercolor

Van Gogh painted his bedroom in Arles three times. My first bedroom painting was of a room where I stayed at a lovely B&B in New Bern, North Carolina. Click on “The artist’s room at her B&B” to view. Following this was my room last April at The Inn on Oak Street in Jacksonville, Florida. Click on “The Boudoir”, which has in it a stately four-poster bed. Next, was an elegant room at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC. This time click on “Sweet dreams”.

Two weeks ago, I returned to the Inn on Oak Street in Jacksonville, where I stayed in “The Treehouse”. I like to think there are better things to do when I’m on the road than flipping on the TV. Certainly, I can absorb more on my trips, if I’m painting as I go.