Friday, December 4, 2009

"Green Gully"

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board   SOLD

This painting was done on location one lush summer afternoon as the sun was slowly making its way toward the western horizon. It's that time of day when all is peaceful and you just want to plop down in a lawn chair with a Diet Coke and contemplate life and nature. I love being a painter and having the excuse to stop and enjoy something so simple as this little gully...something so otherwise easily overlooked.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Sun and Shade"

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board   NFS

Today, on this very wintry day in December, I like the way this painting reminds me of soft summer breezes, hazy afternoons, and the luxury of time to do the things one feels like setting up my easel on my mom's deck and painting the view from there. Only about six months until this scene emerges again.

"Cape Cod Boats"

Oil   8"x10"   Canvas Board   NFS

These boats were pulled up on the shore of a little inlet near Chatham, MA, the location of a workshop I took with Charles Sovek a few years ago. Having set up my easel with the rest of the class on the beach, I first painted the boats at anchor out in the bay. Then, I couldn't resist this group of colorful craft bunched together just above the tide line. The sun was high in the sky so the contrast in values isn't very pronounced. This was only the second plein air painting I had done in years, and I was pretty pleased with the colors and the fresh, loose quality of the brushstrokes.

"Shades of Blue"

Acrylic   6"x6"   Stretched Canvas  

Just a pair of sunglasses in a monochromatic color scheme. I had fun breaking up the space and leaving the area surrounding the glasses up to the viewer's imagination.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oregon Beach

Acrylic   8''x10"   Canvas Board   NFS

I painted this to try to capture the feel of the beach our family enjoyed a few summers ago when we rented a house for a week on the Oregon coast. The proportions of the waves, the golden retrievers (Buck and Snoozer), and the two family members in the distance may not be exactly right. But, for me, the painting evokes memories of the wind in the sea grass, the bonfire we had on the beach our last night, the kites we flew, the freezing waves we played in, and the countless sand dollars we found every morning as we roamed far in each direction.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"A River Runs Through It"

Acrylic   18"x18"   (6"x6" stretched canvases)

This multi-panel painting came about through an interesting chain of ideas. After painting a series of small black and white value studies of various subjects just for practice, I decided to tape them up in a group on the wall of my studio. I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labor and think about how I might use them in future paintings. I really enjoyed how they looked arranged close together, with the values leading your eye from one to the next and throughout the grouping. I thought it would be fun to purposefully design a piece of artwork made up of a series of small paintings, each depicting a different aspect of one subject. I liked the idea of nine parts making up the whole...multiples of three, which is a number that just seems to work when it comes to design. The subject that I chose is the landscape around Valley City, ND. Central to the artwork is the Sheyenne River that runs through that beautiful valley and three means of crossing those waters. I tried to make parts of each little painting pull you into the one next to it (maybe a similar color, shape, or value), and I especially wanted you to feel how the river, in all its forms, runs through it all.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Our Farm"

Oil   5"x7"   Canvas Board   NFS

This little painting of the farm I grew up on was done from one of those aerial photos taken in the 1950's. It was done quickly in oils, which I don't work with very often. I thought I'd go back and add more details after it dried a little, but I found I liked it just the way it is. Maybe it seems too soft and sketchy, but that's part of what I like about it. I could write volumes about each of the buildings, about where the treehouses were built, about the fields and what they grew. But I'll just say that these few acres, visible in this painting, are more special to me than any other spot on the planet, and leave it at that.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Acrylic   6"x6"   Stretched Canvas 

Besides trying to portray the appeal of this old metal and wood utensil, I had fun playing around with the negative spaces in this little painting. I tried to create interesting shapes by having the object go off the edge, which is something I constantly stress with the kids in my art classes. I also tried out some complementary pairs with the blue and orange of the scoop and the yellow and violet of the background. Now I guess I'll go dish up some ice cream.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Monhegan Memories"

These two little paintings were each done in about 15 minutes from photos I took on Monhegan Island, ME. I hadn't painted for awhile, so I was doing some small studies to try to get things working again. They turned out pretty well, I think because I wasn't one bit concerned about how they would turn out. I gave them to my mom because she shared the whole experience with me, from the ferry ride, to hiking the trails, to spending the night at the Island Inn, to sitting on the rocks and watching the waves breaking. Little paintings of a little island.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Just My Type" - SOLD

Acrylic   6"x12"   Stretched Canvas
What was fun about this painting was trying to capture the essence of the vintage typewriter with the fewest possible brushstrokes. I really wasn't going for photo realism...just a believable impression of the working parts. Even this old relic brings back good memories. One summer, we somehow acquired an old typewriter like this which found a home on the table in our sun porch. Someone put a piece of paper in it and we started leaving messages for each other every time we passed by it, coming and going through that room. We all ended up with nicknames with which we signed our little "text messages," leaving comments and "blogging" about the events of the day. There wasn't one bit of technology involved, but it sure was fun. This was 30-some years ago, and look how far we've come.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"You Can Never Have Too Much Chocolate"

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board  

One day, I was in the mood to paint some of my favorite chocolate candy. I was looking for a surface on which to set up the arrangement when I spotted a shiny tray in my studio. It provided a very fun capture the less intense colors and softer edges of the reflections. And it made it look like I had twice as much candy...which is never a bad thing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"A Break in the Trees" - SOLD

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board

This was painted on location on a farm along the Red River, south of Fargo. What appealed to me about this scene was the way the trees framed the far off view and added to the sense of space in the picture. Several of us set up to paint that afternoon, some using pastels, some oils, and some watercolors. I, myself, am concentrating on acrylics these days. They're so easy to travel with and are not hazardous to use in my home studio. While I love the look and smell of oil paints, I also love the bright colors I can get with acrylics and the immediacy of not having to wait for them to dry. I find sticking with one medium, and learning to do that well, takes one variable out of this process of teaching myself to paint the things I want to paint.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Dunes" - SOLD

Acrylic   7"x12"   Stretched Canvas  

This painting was done from a photo I took along the outer reaches of Cape Cod. It was early evening and the shadows were getting long and blue. I really like the way this turned out with the warmth of the sun still catching the tops of the dunes. While I know where I was when I saw this scene, others have said it reminds them of the dunes along the Oregon coast. I love it when a painting can be many things to many people.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Potato Salad"

Acrylic   11"x14"   Canvas Board   NFS

I painted this for my nephew who loves potato salad and loves to make it with his grandma. It was fun to try to capture so many different textures. Having the actual objects in a still-life arranged in front of me and painting them from life is a great excercise in observation. I can control the light source, overlap objects to create depth, and then simply paint what I see.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Takeout Pizza"

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board   NFS

This is a portrait of a "Manhandler" with onions from Pizza Corner in Valley City. Every time my brother and his family come back to North Dakota for a visit, it's usually only a matter of hours until we're all sitting down to dive into a couple of large pizzas from that establishment. Their pizza is awesome, but don't take my word for it. The next time you're in Valley City, ND, stop in and see for yourself. It's right on Main Street. You can't miss it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Got Gum?"

Acrylic   16"x20"   Canvas Board  

The reflections were really the subject of this painting. I set up the gumball machine near the window in my studio and tried to simply paint the colors and values that I saw, without even thinking about creating the look of metal. I was excited when I stepped back and looked at the results. I love the whole "Pop Art" idea... looking at the everyday things around us in a new light and giving them significance by painting them larger than life. The artist, Wayne Thiebaud (whose work I really like), did this with cakes and pies and gumball machines. His influence can definitely be seen in some of the subjects of my paintings.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Lego Man"

Acrylic   6"x6"   Stretched Canvas  

This little Lego structure was left sitting on the table one day after my nephews visited and I decided to paint it. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be...much easier to build with Legos, I think, than to paint them. But this demonstrates my philosophy that anything, insignificant or magnificent, is a worthy painting subject. The 'things' we surround ourselves with are often full of connections to the people we love.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Middle C"

Acrylic   6"x6"   Stretched Canvas  

I may not be very musical, but I did learn to play piano when I was a kid. I'm grateful to the grownups who drove me to my lessons and kept after me to practice. This is a little painting of the actual old upright piano I practiced on back then. I had to include the keyhole because that was the only way I could find Middle C. Now I only play for my own enjoyment (and badly at that), but as bad as my piano playing is, my singing is worse.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"June" - SOLD

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board  

This is a prairie scene I never get tired of...a hillside topped by trees, set off against a summer sky. There is something so familiar about this landscape. Anyone who's driven along a country road could probably name a place it reminds them of. For me, it's the hills around home and a day in June with the whole summer stretching ahead of me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Bend in the River" - SOLD

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board  

This little painting was done on the banks of the Buffalo River in Minnesota on a morning in June. The sun was hitting the sandbar across the river from me and turned the middleground of the painting into the center of interest. I've tried to paint this spot many times, and so far this is the closest I've come to capturing the layers of trees going back into the distance and the winding river flowing past me out the right side of the painting. I can look at this and hear the water and feel the breeze. That's one of the best parts of painting on location...the scene is forever etched in your memory and on your senses.

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Sunmart Cupcakes"

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board  

The first time I saw this container of cupcakes in the bakery section of the grocery store, I knew I had to paint them. They represent all the primary and secondary colors...what artist could resist?! This painting is a little more abstract than most of my food still-lifes. I just wanted to communicate the impression of cupcakes and the delightful palette of different frostings.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Strawberry Rhubarb Pie"

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board  

One day I went to the grocery store with the sole purpose of finding something fun to paint. I thought I'd find some luscious cake or colorful donuts, but I came home with this bright red of my favorites. It was fun to try and capture the reflective look of the filling and the crumbliness of the crust. Just for some contrast, I painted a fork ready to take a big bite. It took longer than usual to paint this slice because I had to stop every few minutes to walk over and take another bite of the remaining pie. It's pretty hard to stare at something this edible and not feel the urge to eat the very subject of the painting.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Wellfleet Harbor"

Oil   6"x8"  Canvas Board   NFS

This little painting was done on location during a workshop I took on Cape Cod a few years ago. The instructor was Charles Sovek, an artist I greatly admire and respect. He passed away two years ago, and I felt as if I'd lost a dear friend, even though I had just gotten to know him briefly during the workshop. My painting is not nearly as bright and vibrant as the examples he painted that day. It was rainy and windy and I seemed to capture some of the grayness of the scene instead. But, to be out painting that week with a great artist in an amazing place was an experience I'll never forget.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Floats" - SOLD

Acrylic   8"x10"   Canvas Board  

Sometimes a painting subject is as close as your own backyard. These floats hang on the side of my garden shed and are my own little reminder of some of my favorite places like Cape Cod, MA and Monhegan Island, ME and Seaside, OR and Homer, AK. I may be a long way from the ocean, but it seems likes it's always in the back of my mind (and in the back of my yard.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Bar Harbor, Maine"

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board   NFS

This is my favorite of the little plein air paintings I did on location in Maine. I set up my easel on the porch of our motel, high on a hill overlooking Frenchman Bay. The early morning sun was sparkling on the water and just catching the tops of the trees in the foreground. I painted quickly, trying to simplify the scene and not go back over the brushstrokes that were already working. So many times, I go back to "fix" some little thing and lose the fresh, "un-fussy" quality that I'm striving for, and I'm never quite able to put it back the way it was. A painting goes through so many stages on the way to being called finished, and the final version isn't always the artist's favorite. Still, I learn so much each time I set out to complete a painting that the ups and downs along the way are always worth it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Camden Beach"

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board   NFS

This was painted on location on a little stretch of beach in Camden, ME, down the hill and down a flight of old wooden steps from our motel. We had the beach all to ourselves for a couple of hours that July morning. Of course the light changed and the tide changed in the time it took me to paint this, and I kept changing the painting to try to keep up. It's not a masterpiece, but it is the first painting I ever painted in Maine so it's kind of special to me. Over the next few months, I'll post many more paintings done from photos taken on that trip. Something about the Atlantic just keeps me coming back.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Sand Beach, Acadia, Maine"

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board   NFS

I painted this on a windy beach surrounded by fellow wave-watchers, marauding seagulls, young sandcastle builders, and even some hardy souls who were swimming in the 50 degree water. The sun was high in the sky so the water was an amazing combination of blues and greens against the pink granite cliffs. It was hard to leave this spot after working on the painting for a couple of hours, but by then, the incoming tide was nearly lapping at our feet and there was so much more of Acadia to explore.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Acrylic   6"x6"   Stretched Canvas  

Reflections are a lot of fun to paint. When I stop thinking about what the object actually is and, instead, focus on the colors and values, the impression of a shiny surface just happens. It's amazing when I step back and, sure enough, the painting really looks like the object I'm trying to paint. It doesn't always happen, but it's fun when it does.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Beside Still Waters"

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board  

Another little painting of Maine...this one a salt marsh near Bass Harbor. I loved the way the tidal river meandered back into the distance and how blue the water appeared in the foreground. I found myself scouting out how and where you could launch a kayak in this body of water. It would have been so cool to explore and see where the river would take me. But, doing a painting of it is the next best thing. That way my imagination can take me where my kayak couldn't.

Monday, September 21, 2009

'51 Chevy

Acrylic   6"x6"   Stretched Canvas  

What can I say? They just don't make 'em like they used to. Growing up, there was always a Chevy parked somewhere on the farm. We had two different pickups of this was nicknamed "The Blue Goose." What a vehicle. As crazy as it sounds, if given the choice between a hot sports car or a '51 Chevy pickup, I'd take the Chevy in a heartbeat. You can take the girl off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the girl.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas board  

There's something so appealing about a kid's box of watercolors. Somebody has used these with great gusto to produce artwork from the heart. Remember what it was like, opening up that new set and seeing those six colors (plus brown and black) all lined up and begging you to dip that brush in? What are you waiting for? Get yourself a little paintbox and just dive in for old times sake.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board   NFS

Another irresistable red building...this one perched on the shore of a quiet cove on a Minnesota lake, just down the hill from my brother and sister-in-law's cabin. I painted this early in the morning on the beach before the rest of the family was up. Again, I tried to keep it fresh and spontaneous and not overwork it. That was partly because the minute everybody was awake, there were places to go and things to do and the paints were packed away for the day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Yunker Farm Paint-Out"

"The House at Yunker Farm"
Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board

One really hot day in August, a group of us met at Yunker Farm and the adjacent Botanical Gardens to paint for the day. I painted the gardens in the morning and early afternoon, but this wonderful, old, red brick farmhouse kept calling to me. I only had about an hour's worth of energy and concentration left in me when I set up to paint this view, but it was fun to just put the paint down and not fuss with it. My record of the architecture isn't perfect, but I can look at the painting and remember exactly what my impressions were of the day and the place.


"Alphabet Garden"
Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board

At the Botanical Gardens, there's this wonderful area laid out with big ABCs made out of bricks or stones or whatever. The names of the flowers and plants around and within each letter begin with that letter. The garden is planted and kept up totally by volunteers. I tried to capture the path and the riot of colors backlit by the morning sun.
"Garden Shadows"
Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board

Most of the group set up in the shade near this little garden to paint. This patch of flowers only takes up a few square feet, but it was delightful. Just goes to show that good things often do come in small packages.... just like little paintings, right?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Moon Lake"

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board  

A little closer to home, these two paintings were done on location one quiet June morning at Moon Lake near Valley City. I set up my easel and umbrella on the dock and painted the trees and reflections toward the shore. The only sounds were prairie sounds like birds, the breeze, and rustling grass, and a muskrat who swam under the dock and startled me so bad, I nearly fell in the lake.

"Moon Lake Too" - SOLD

Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board  

This view is toward the north shore of the lake. The water was just as calm this particular morning as when we used to come up to the lake and go waterskiing in the early evenings, back when we were much younger. Life was sure simpler then. We've all changed but the lake is still the lake.

It was a great way to spend a morning, remembering and painting a bit of our youth.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Overlooking Camden, Maine"

 Acrylic   6"x8"   Canvas Board  

This view is from the top of Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park. I painted it after we got home from our trip to Maine this summer. This was early evening, looking out over Penobscot Bay and Vinalhaven Island in the distant haze. The next day we went sailing in these waters on the windjammer Surprise. The winds were stiff and the day was gorgeous. For someone from land-locked North Dakota, it doesn't get much better than this.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Go Fish" - SOLD


Acrylic   24"x48"   Stretched Canvas

This is one of the largest paintings I've done lately. I just picked it up this afternoon from a show it was in at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, MN so I thought I'd post it today.

This is for all the fishermen in my know who you are. You're the ones who can thank Grandpa or the uncles (and aunts!) or your dad for teaching you how to stick a worm on your hook or how to tie that knot so you wouldn't lose your favorite spinner. There's no rhyme or reason to the lures I picked for this painting. I just liked the colors and reflections and those little eyes looking back at me. It reminds me of the tangle you might find in some tackle boxes and it speaks of the eternal optimism of fishermen everywhere who think, "If this one doesn't get a nibble, another color or shape or size surely will."

The title can mean either "Go forth and fish." ...or...
"Go, you fish!!! This is a trap! Don't fall for it!" ...You decide.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Kodak Moment" - SOLD

Acrylic   6"x6"   Stretched Canvas  

Oh, if this old camera could talk, the stories it could tell...of birthday parties, weddings, 4th of July picnics, first days of school, Christmas presents being opened...
I found this camera in an antique shop and I wonder whose family it saw through its viewfinder. Where did they live? What did they celebrate? As I painted this, I was picturing my own grandma holding a camera exactly like this one, lining us kids up on the front steps of the farmhouse for a snapshot. How much richer we are for all those pictures and for all those people we were standing next to in them. This one's for you, Grandma.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

Acrylic  6"x6"  Stretched Canvas 

I love baseball. And I love to paint. Lots of good memories were swirling around me as I tried to capture the leather and stitching. Playing ball with my cousins as a kid. Going to Twins games with my family. The sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of summer. Summer's fading and so are the Twins' hopes of post-season play. Oh well, there's always next year....for lots of things.