The Best Thing About Social Media

backlit backside 16x20 an early surf painting( from when I painted with a very bright palette!)

backlit backside 16x20
an early surf painting( from when I painted with a very bright palette!)

I have to share a great recent experience. I'm a reluctant blogger and FB user but my opinion changed dramatically this week. Although I live in San Diego, I'm frequently in Laguna Beach at Studio 7, where I show my paintings. Last Monday, my wife suggested I let people know the days I'm planning to be in Laguna, just in case people who know me, or my work might make the effort to stop by. Sure enough, yesterday afternoon a surfing buddy from high school (Scott English) and his wife showed up unannounced (and really put me on the spot.) After 40+ years I didn't recognize him (embarrassed, I really tried) but we spent the next hour or so catching up on each other's lives and "talking story". They're down from Paso Robles visiting their new grandchild and stopped in. All because of my FB post! It was so cool -- the afternoon flew by and to reconnect was "priceless" to quote that VisaCard commercial. What I learned -- make the time to use social media a little more. It can open new doors and old ones as well.

Crystal Cove OC’s best kept secret

I'm always amazed that Crystal Cove is kind of like Catalina Island. So many people I know live in SoCal have never been to either place or sometimes even know about them. Both offer a feeling of being 50 years behind the times and a lot of painters have documented them during the last century. This is my newest painting of Crystal Cove (24x30) at Studio 7 in Laguna. I'll be there this coming Friday (Mar. 4) from 11-5pm and hope you'll stop by to see it and say hi!
crystal cove 24x30 oil a view from coast highway

crystal cove 24x30 oil
a view from coast highway

Feels Like Summer

The weather is amazing today and I feel like sharing a recent small view from a trip to Mexico recently. A decent swell had a couple guys in the lineup and I'm enjoying trying to keep it loose and still express the feeling of the beauty of catching a wave. This one is 6x12" and titled "Morning in La Mision" a favorite beach of ours just below Rosarito Beach.
surfing in baja

morning in la mision 9x12 $300

Looking Back(wards)

I've found that as I go in search of the next exceptional painting, the harder I look, the more likely I don't find what I think I went in search of. I often find what I'm looking for when I least expect it. I'll turn around and start to head home and suddenly there's a "eureka" moment. By looking back at what I overlooked going in a different direction, the light, the scene, the subject matter, something,reveals itself. There's the painting, staring you in the face. Paint it, photograph it, do something… but don't overlook it. The past was yesterday, the future is tomorrow, that's why they call today "the present". This painting is Catalina Island's west end, far less visited than Avalon, Catalina's main town. I found this view walking back to the Banning House after a long day of painting. It reminds me of how almost all of California's coast looked 100 years ago. (Day 3 of the 7 day challenge from Robert Goldman.)
Hills at Two Harbors

Hills at Two Harbors


"Evening Sentinels" 16x20 at Marcia Burtt Gallery, Santa Barbara

"Evening Sentinels" 16x20 at Marcia Burtt Gallery, Santa Barbara |

I'm thinking Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I guess it's because we tend to focus on family and being together with people we really want to be with. Just spent the weekend with my brother and sisters (and their families) in Wrightwood up near Lake Arrowhead. We enjoyed Fall colors, great food, and after the kids were asleep, some stories of growing up that had us laughing so hard I was crying. Now, we get to do our 2nd T-Day in Newport Beach with my cousin Karen tomorrow. Another opportunity to give thanks and be grateful. Hope your Thanksgiving is special as well.

After Dark

santa barbara chevron  9x12 oil

santa barbara chevron 9x12 oil

I like the challenges of painting night scenes. There's something compelling about light and shadows that are a real challenge to paint well. I think Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks at the Diner" is one of the most well-known nocturnes in the world. It has a familiarity that is universal, It could almost be in any town in America, but we have all seen something like it in real life, in our lifetime. These are 2 gas stations, one in Santa Barbara, one in Laguna Beach. I was drawn to paint them because of the light, like a "moth to a flame".
classical gas  12x16 oil

classical gas 12x16 oil

Being Confident

confidence 6x6" original oil painting This blog is in response to an article about an artist that wouldn't enter her work in an exhibition due to her fear of having her work rejected. I think confidence is a result of being realistic. It's not magic. Confidence comes through success, often due to very small "baby steps " that move you toward a longer term goal. Self discipline needs to be part of the equation as well. A friend once asked me if I knew what self discipline really was and went on to say "It's remembering what you want." That really applies to everything -- losing weight, learning a new skill, etc. Perseverance is the one most common denominator of most of the people we think of as confident or successful. I have often "waffled" or considered not showing up or signing up for an event, art show, reception etc. What I've found is that opportunities I never would have dreamed of, happened because I just "showed up." I have had many doors opened up to me by engaging a stranger in conversation at an art event. Sometimes it results in a sale, a new student in my painting class (this happens frequently), offers of a place to stay when I travel. I know I come across as confident to others, especially when I talk about art because it is truly my passion. I often am so enthusiastic talking about it people just laugh. My passion is creating it, teaching what I know, being inspired by other artists work, and just talking to another artist and forging a friendship through common experiences. I teach painting but what I really teach is enjoying the process. If you don't enjoy something, why do it? Life is too short. I'm over 60 and my high school art teacher is still a close friend. She gave me confidence by encouraging me to take risks and try new things. Thank you Linda (and John). I think it's important to measure yourself against your peers as a way of knowing if your confidence is false. If other people (not your friends and family) tell you your work is good, it probably is. But don't rest on your laurels, use that input to be better at what you do, everyday. As Jack White (and many others) have said "Just show up." Life is full of confidence-building experiences. For a surfer, dropping into a wave is the critical part of riding it. After that, it's all just fun. Sp as they say, you won't know if you don't go.

Drawn to Abstraction

Sunset Blues  6x6" oil on gessoed panel

Sunset Blues
6x6" oil on gessoed panel

Lately I find myself really paying attention to what makes a painting compelling to me. The work of other painters I admire often incorporates simplifying shapes and emphasizing negative space. As a representational painter, in some ways that contradicts what i know. But when you think about it, what is left out is as important as what you put in. And a little bit of mystery is what makes life interesting. A common question artists ask when they paint is "how do I know when it's done?" The best answer I've heard is "when it communicates." So I'm trying to find a balance between simplicity, design and eloquence as I challenge myself as a painter.

What is Your Style?

I recently read an article about "finding your style." I think that if you have to search for your style, you have it backwards. Through growth, exploration, repetition and understanding, your style finds you. I was taken aback the first time someone said to me "I'd know your work anywhere." I didn't really think my work had a "style." But looking back, I was an illustrator and did a ton of graphic design work before I turned to painting as a career. I worked hard to establish myself as a dependable, creative artist. I think that over time we establish ways of working, that are subconscious and from those deep places, a consistent look or approach eventually becomes your own. The key word is eventually. You can't find it if you try to force it or hurry the process. We have all seen work by artists that is formulaic and boring. This is not style, it is an example of someone who is unwilling to invest the time required to challenge themselves enough to find their own voice and artistic path and continually grow creatively. Work to be the best artist you can be. Your "style" will find you.