To travel and paint ….. to paint and travel.  To pass along the various methods I’ve learned or discovered to express the life I awaken to each morning …. To make connections, on a daily basis, with new people from all walks of life  and to add, in a positive way, to the rhythm of the Universe …. Those have always been my goals.

On the Road to Asheville, NC

On the Road to Asheville, NC

As those goals become reality, other aspects of daily life require adjusting.  There are only twenty four hours in each day.  I had filled those hours completely before needing to upgrade my online presence, before needing to plan for days lost to airports and cars, travel logistics, packing everything into manageable suitcases.  It’s challenging and totally worth every frustration that crosses my path.

Developing new approaches to teaching the basics drives me along paths I might not have explored.  I discover techniques I had forgotten and I stumble across techniques I haven’t tried before.  My own work grows when I share my painting experiences with others.

Sketchbook travel drawing:  Drawn first with ink using a fountain pen, followed by watercolor using a waterbrush. Drawn from the passenger seat, en route to Asheville, NC where my friend, Pete, filmed the first of a series of online painting demos.

Home again after an inspiring and adventurous ten days in California.  Great people, great landscapes, great food and great weather.

San Francisco Streets

One of my goals was to play with the perspective of the streets during the two days I spent in the city of San Francisco.

Slanted streets and houses

The one day in San Franciso that I planned to sketch rather than walk and snap photos, it began to rain as soon as I put ink to paper.

Slanted landscapes everywhere

Most of my time was spent drawing and painting on Moffett Field in Mountain View and exploring the hills in the surrounding area.  Though I love the beauty of the flat landscape in New Jersey where I live, I feel more connected with the slanted and rolling landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Pacific Ocean Reflections

In addition to slanted landscapes, reflections and shadows turned out to be threads that wove the fabric of my trip.

Pacific Ocean Seaweed Shadows

Already, I  look forward to returning, perhaps in January, to teach another Color Scheme Game Workshop not only in Santa Rosa., but in Mountain View and San Francisco as well.  In addition to the Color Scheme Game Workshop I’ll be teaching a Color Value Workshop in Santa Rosa. (Thanks again, Joanie Springer, for helping to make this such a successful trip!  Thank you Kristen and Zak at Village Art Supply for hosting a last minute workshop in the middle of your amazing art store! )

Photos taken in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’ve enjoyed a fabulous week along the Wicomico River in Maryland, painting and visiting with friends.

rocks among the marsh grass

The water lapped at the rocks behind me. I turned and decided to paint them.  It’s been a while since I tackled painting a pile of rocks.  As the wind picked up the gentle smacking sound grew louder.  The sky darkened, clouds swirled and I felt like I wanted to paint in that spot forever.  It’s been a great week.

5″ x 5″ oil sketch, en plein air, rocks, water and marsh grass

If you love drawing with fountain pens and a splash of color, don’t throw away old file folders!  I love the smooth surface and the off-white, ochre color.  They feel similar in weight to 80 lb cover stock.  Light washes of watercolor or gouache don’t cause ripples. The nib of the fountain pen glides across the surface.

Oak tree behind the cabin at Carolina Landing

Overall, I’m pleased with the photos of sketchbook drawings taken with my iphone during the road trip.  The image above was shot on the back porch of the cabin under gray, morning light before we packed the car and headed to the Outer Banks.  The pale ochre tone of the file folder paper was lost in translation.

Starting my day on a porch (either my own or someone else’s), pen in hand, coffee within reach, my sense of sight and smell tuning in to the vibes of the dawning day is as crucial to me as eating and sleeping …. in fact, I am more willing to skip eating and sleeping than I am drawing and painting.

sketchbook drawing: drawn en plein air on file folder paper, first with ink using a fountain pen, followed by watercolor wash.

Another en route painting from the passenger seat yesterday as we drove through Delaware.

Neutral greens

The farm is along a section of Route 1 in Delaware where the foliage appeared to be turning directly from green to brown. Yellows, oranges or reds were nowhere to be seen.

When I drive south again next week, I won’t have the luxury of riding as a painting passenger.

Sketchbook drawing:  drawn first in ink with a fountain pen, followed by watercolor using a waterbrush and my Altoid Tin of watercolor pans filled with paint squeezed from tubes.

I find it refreshing to be disconnected from cyberspace while exploring the back roads of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.  The absence of good restaurants is less refreshing, but the delicious hickory smoked BBQ makes up for it.  I am not, however, a big fan of Burdoo (Kentucky Road Kill Stew).

Stairwells everywhere

Our only real destination was the Campbell House, an old hotel in Lexington, Kentucky.  Tom had stayed here before and was told that it was haunted.  It’s a great hotel, full of character ….. but no ghosts as far as I could tell.

Lexington is smaller than I thought …. only three tall buildings in the whole city.  After walking about and tasting some of the local hickory smoked BBQ (Rib Tips) we stopped in at De Sha’s for a taste of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale on tap.  Unbelievable!  It’s served in a snifter rather than a mug due to its high alcohol content.  We just missed the last tour of the brewery.

James Oliver drawing Batman

The couple sitting next to us had also stopped in for a snifter or two.  Jame’s father, Jim Oliver was also an artist.  He won the 1990 competition for the Kentucky Duck Stamp.  James is a chip off the old block.  He agreed to do a drawing in my sketchbook.

James Oliver’s ink drawing of Batman

Before retiring for the night, I wandered the halls of the haunted hotel and stopped to draw the grand piano and wing back chairs in one of the sitting rooms.

Sitting Room at Campbell House

In the morning we stopped at Keeneland Race Track before heading south.

Keeneland Race Track

We stayed for two races.  In the second race, my horse, #4, Zeb, won!  Having placed a $5 bet, I won $20.50.  Not bad for my first horse race!

4 pm, Route 150 in Kentucky

Along Route 150 we saw miles and miles of stone walls of the design shown in the ink drawing above.  The bottom part is flat rocks piled horizontally upon one another.  The top layer is the same flat rocks leaning vertically upon one another.

I’ll stop for today….. this reminds me of the 50’s and 60’s when we bored one another with slide shows of vacations.

Route 49, North Carolina

Sketchbook drawings:  ink is drawn with a fountain pen.  Watercolors are painted with a waterbrush using pigments in pans stored in an Altoid Mint Box.

We’ve been keeping track of the mileage.  Yesterday the 1988 K-Car got 29.55 miles per gallon.  We’ve averaged about 27 mpg.  Not bad for an old car.

On March 11, 2004 I landed in Porto, Portugal an hour before the bomb exploded on a train in Madrid.  Unaware of the tragedy, I rented a car and drove north to meet my daughter, Nicole.  Our original plan had been for me to meet her in Madrid.  She was to take the train from Portugal to Madrid.

Gaudi’s Mosaic Dragon Souvenir, Parc Guell Barcelona, Spain

We drove across northern Spain through Dali landscapes of pinnacles and sharp shadows.  Black flags hung from windows in every town and city, mourning the deaths of the victims on the train.  Two days later we arrived in Barcelona to explore Gaudi’s architectural wonders and to drown ourselves in the art galleries.  It was in Barcelona that we discovered Vieira da Silva, a Portuguese painter who has become a strong influence in my work.

Nicole bought this little dragon for her sister, but I am the lucky caretaker.

The stories told in America were quite different from the stories told in Portugal and Spain.

Dragon Drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Rohrer & Klingnerj Alt Goldgun ink followed by watercolor … followed by fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink.

Already I miss the beauty of the light reflecting off the water in Maine.  I made it back to New Jersey in record time …. no  delays due to construction and I missed both morning and evening rush hour traffic.

Rick Steves Backpack Suitcase

Plenty to catch up on today along with a few new ideas to make the Color Scheme Game  demos and workshops even better.

Sketchbook Drawing: drawn first with fountain pen, followed by watercolor on Rives BFK paper.

The weather in South Portland, Maine is spectacular.

Party Lights through the Kitchen Window

The day begins with coffee outside on the deck overlooking the marshes and Egan Cove.  The day ends with dinner on the deck, party lights and candles illuminating delicious food and wine.  Conversation with friends and neighbors lasts long into the night.  I will miss the laughter and exchange of ideas.  My car is packed and I head north in about an hour.


Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with black ink, followed by watercolor.

One last, little painting from Broad Creek, Tyaskin, Maryland.

Broad Creek, 5″ x 5″ en plein air oil painting

It amazes me that such depth of distance can be created on a 5″ x 5″ panel.  After several days of painting the marshes I was able to create the feeling of the bright light, the expansive space as well as the variations of texture and color in the various grasses with minimal brush strokes.  Before I return in October, I might warm up a few days prior to departure by painting quick studies from photographs.  As much as I don’t like working from photos, it’ll be worth it to get right down to business without wasting a few days on site getting accustomed to the marshes again.

Painting:  oil on gessoed birch panel, 5″ x 5″ en plein air. Painted over an underpainting wash of Permanent Mauve.