Marguerite & Barney

A dear friend and ex-colleague asked me to make a painting of his stepdaughter (daughter) and her horse. I just sent it out today, and thought I’d share the steps along the way.
Just before I closed the box to ship
I started with a marker sketch and loosely laying in color and value.
Now I’m slowly going around and laying in the next level of detail – not really accurate to call it detail yet…!
more in the same vein… still a mess
This is that point where I realize how much trouble I’m in. Everything I’ve touched is still crude – and not in a good way!
This is quite a bit later; lots of little steps along the way to get here. Still pretty disappointing though!
The final piece- there is a lot of time between the last image and this one. 

Moonrise, Chama River

I wander around at night sometimes, partially to be out in the wilderness at dawn or twilight, but also because the night itself is so powerful and magical to me. This is overlooking the Chama River as the moon rose early one morning; I was actually heading somewhere else but had to stop. This is another painting ( 3′ x 3′) that I started as an acrylic, and then was able to finish once I started painting in oils.

Just the beginnings of a sketch, using colored pencils on a prepared panel.

Starting to put in some values with the water, and acrylic markers for the shadows. The milky way ended up disappearing.

One of the ten times that I would paint the sky and the reflections…

Now with the background details begun there is a cartoon, giving a sense of the piece.

New sky, new water…

Another new sky…

Okay, sky is massaged back into place. I just began using oils on the distant hills, making them darker so that I would have to balance everything to that. It’s amazing how much harder this would have been as a watercolor!

Here, a lot of the painting has been repainted in oils. It’s still a little cartoony, though, and the trees aren’t right and are too dark…

The trees are participating in the moonlight now, and everything has been touched. Not right yet, but it’s easier to see what to do once one gets closer all around.

Moonrise Chama River
Here’s the final painting. 

Morning, Canyonlands

This is a large (3′ x 4′) painting that I started a while ago and just finished, showing the valley and mesas on the way to the southern entrance to Canyonlands National Park one morning. It’s from a car trip back from San Francisco when my wife Melinda and I traveled through Utah, where she is from originally. I began it as an acrylic painting and got stuck for a while. Even using Open Acrylics, I had a hard time feathering edges and gradations of transparent color. Once I started painting in oils, the problems that I couldn’t overcome using acrylic seemed solvable to me, (still hard but solvable) so I was able to finish.

This is the initial sketch in acrylics.

Still initial work, with the sky darkened, and a little more detail added. 

Right about here was when I realized how hard this was all going to be.

I slowly started working on the foreground grasses and the mid ground line of trees. There is no way to do this without music.


Much more work on the foreground in this stage, and a little re-working of the sky and clouds. For someone who has worked for so long in watercolors, to be able to mess around and revise is pretty amazing! (Although it’s still pretty rough)

Now the sky and  clouds and part of the mesas have been repainted in oils.

This is the final painting, with everything reworked – and finally a proper scan as well.

Big Ivy North Carolina

These are from a lovely foggy autumn day in Big Ivy, North Carolina driving up state road 2173 to Douglas Falls. I was visiting my sister and her family in Asheville and my brother in law and he took me to this special place.

This was a year ago, and I was too depressed with the political news, and a beloved dog dying to post them, so I waited a year to do it. It’s such a lovely place that I didn’t want to not post them! And now of course we are surrounded by two new young canine family members…

On the foggy road up Big Ivy

As we were walking to Douglas Falls, the fog cleared for a little while and revealed this lovely view.

Douglas Falls in fog…

..and after the fog cleared

Peach Orchard Creek

Staire Branch in the fog

Walker Branch

Little Andy creek

Walker Branch after the fog rolled back in

A view from the trees near Asheville

Seattle & the Olympic Peninsula

My lovely and talented wife, Melinda Tidwell, recently traveled to Seattle to work with the great Carla Sonheim ( to film a series of online collage/composition workshops. I took the opportunity to wander around up there and here are some photographs from those rambles.

This is the ferry to Southworth on the first morning. It was delightfully (for a Santa Fean) overcast and rainy as we headed west to the Olympic Peninsula)

This is the view from near Union, Washington looking over the Hood Canal towards the mountains.

This is overlooking Lake Cushman above Hoodsport, Washington.

Looking back towards Seattle from the 6:10am ferry to Bainbridge Island.

The beautiful Lake Crescent.

Elwha River at the entrance to Olympic National Park, which unfortunately had the road closed this day.

Ruby Beach, on the Pacific. Time to turn around.

Looking south along the shore.

Next morning I headed out to the southern entrance to Olympic National Park at Staircase on the Skokomish River.

This is a wildly beautiful place, and of course I didn’t encounter a soul.

DSC07848 Panorama
Some of the amazing staircase rapids on the Skokomish River.

End of the day on the Skokomish River, near where it enters Hood Canal.

Looking back towards the mountains as I head to the ferry.

An Edward Hopper moment on the ferry.

The night skyline of Seattle as the ferry approaches.

People’s Choice Award

I got some lovely news yesterday: my watercolor, Winter, East Fork Jemez River, won the People’s Choice Award at the New Mexico Watercolor Society Fall Show! It also won another small award, but I’m especially pleased by the People’s Choice Award.

East Fork Jemez River