"Swimming in Paint"

This is about the most fascinating career choice I ever made, that of an Oil Painter

Friday, February 3, 2017

Swimming-in-Paint - COACH'S "WOW" AWARD

Something new for Swimming-in-Paint!!


WOW! We got talent exposed! Last weekend we finished up our first workshop. The January team worked hard. Some continued at home between sessions to produce a wide body of work around a "Single Subject". By design, the team is always made up of many different skill levels because we also learn from each other.

I believe hard work needs to be acknowledged beyond the classroom setting. After reviewing the class photos and recapping the month - seeing the progress made by the team - I felt the time was right to make it happen.

The "Jump Factor" is something that stops you in your tracks and you take notice. It often happens in Swimming-in-Paint and needs to be acknowledged. This year each month, we'll have a COACH’S “WOW” AWARD to celebrate a member’s hard work. I'm also dedicating a wall to this end in my Crossroads Gallery. Each month the wall will feature a new "Swimming-in-Paint" award winner. The "WOW" painting will also be displayed during the bi-monthly Crossroads opening. Plus, the whole gallery will be dedicated to a month long "December Swimming-in-Paint Exhibit"

The Team Member "WOW" award of the month is Mary Claire Coster for her (9) Iris paintings. Congratulations to Mary Claire for a stunning months work! It's hard to pick a favorite. Mary Claire's Irises look equally wonderful at 30 feet as they do up close and personal.....:=)

RED IRIS 20x16 oil on linen by Mary Claire Coster

Mary Claire hard at work on her final 36x36 linen canvas

End of 2nd day
Mary Clare's 36x36 is well on its way to the finish line at home.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February Swimming-in-Paint intro


This weekend we start up again with a new team. The January team launched our sea trials for the new weekend (5 session) single subject workshop covering the full month. As coach, I want to help encourage and develop a structured learning process that is a bit more focused and directed to improve skills either in a classroom setting or home alone. 

Everyone who reads my blog knows I'm a firm believer of working on one painting and one concept at a time. When the energy is gone...move on! With me, a daily painter, that means a subject change (subject rotation), a simple move, a fresh start that keeps the energy going.

The first (3) weeks, including any homework (encouraged) is done on a Centurion oil linen pad (10 sheets per pad) size of your choosing. Recommended size 20x16 - inexpensive, easily stored and stretchable if worthy. The final work is on a stretched linen canvas, again your choice of size. The intent, complete the project over the last (2) day weekend and move on to a fresh idea. Perhaps adapting the process to your personal life, repeat the process.....perhaps forever.....always with the optimism of perpetual improvement.

Learn to continually step back, view your work objectively for clues to the next move until scale/composition, punctuation (light and shadow) feels right. Up close paint marks may feel abstract or very refined, regardless, here is where paint quality, brushwork, lost and found edges count most. An overcooked painting won't show at 30 feet... it will up close and personal! Painters quicksand.......may look nice up close and personal and be a turd at 30 feet! Learn to respect what 30 feet tells you regardless of what you see up close. A good painting reads at any distance, in any light, regardless of size!

Homework, one thing implied in the class overview happily did start developing, basically dedicating your home easel time too. Keeping your focus on the project during the week at home, is a very important component to the single subject workshop success.  

The last day everyone will view all their work done over the month and chat a bit about it before leaving.

BTW....might be a good idea to start numbering your canvas sooner than later..:=) I recommend numbering each canvas in sequential order to review your progress....not to mention the value of tracking your work history.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Exploring ideas on canvas

Yesterday I was at my studio easel early to continue on with my small  one session 12x12 exploratory paintings....my homework. My project subject, Venice, was started a few weeks ago in Swimming-in-Paint. I already know my final 2-day painting will be moody and atmospheric...my studies already tell me that.

The reference for the painting below was a very cool Eastern moon rise  taken from my studio deck a few years ago while the setting sun was still warming clouds.

CANVAS 1117 (one session)

Venetian Moon 12x12 oil on linen (1-26-17 canvas 1117)

(one session canvas 1118)

Venetian fog 12x12 oil on linen (1-27-17 canvas 1118)

My 12x12 warmups over, I'm now thinking about my weekend painting. The last few weeks were well worth my time because now I have have a few ideas for my final painting. I know Venice will be  suggestive and moody. I also know my canvas will be almost square at 40x44......not sure if it will be horizontal or vertical yet.

 Size comparison between a 12x12 and 40x44

(5) Warmup atmospheric paintings

Team, I'll be at Crossroads to open the doors at 9:30am. Don't forget to bring all your paintings related to our project including references and canvas. I have a few 24x24 canvases available. We have a big weekend ahead of us.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

In the groove...:=)

Extended time off can be refreshing and welcome. However, at least for me, rust sets in...so getting back in the old groove takes a bit to brush it off.  

Coaching Swimming-in-Paint is now part of my painting plan going forward and something I look forward to each weekend. How it affects my own solo painting is a work-in-progress. 

The first thing I did this year was organize the class painting mission to run parallel with mine. I have a basket of subjects I rotate and occasionally explore a new one. I like to binge paint an idea to a conclusion. It turned out to be an efficient and organized work process.....something I would like to pass on to the team and others.

  • The team has (5) full day sessions each month to explore a single subject and complete a final (2) day painting. 

Personally I don't work on multiple ideas or paintings at a time. Each is completed to the best of my ability regardless of time. Good or bad, each is signed, numbered, recorded......when the energy is spent I move on to a fresh idea. As a daily painter working from a home studio, there are no work rules. It's a self motivated routine. Keeping it fresh and engaging is a constant.

  • It's my hope each member continues exploring their chosen subject between sessions at home.......basically some good old fashion homework. The important thing here is to stay engaged and not lose focus until the project is completed. 

My painting style is quick, typically in 10 or 15 minute spurts... step back, listen to the music, look for my next move and immediately get up and do it. That would describe a typical work day for me. Sound familiar...... may match your own routine. My best time is the first hours in the morning. The important parts of any painting is always first on my list each day. The first sloppy or lazy mistake.....the session ends!

On the weekends during Swimming-in-Paint, I operate exactly the same. When I paint, I break every few minutes to visit each member..... help them work through a problem or simply give encouragement. At the same time, glancing at mine looking forward to the next few minutes I get to work on it. LOL..sometimes I don't get back to the easel as I should.

1113 Unfinished 12x12 oil on linen (1-14-17)

By our 2nd session I decided to join the team and select my own subject to work on.......a painting plan for coach:=)

I'm working on one of my favorites, Venice, with an emphasis on atmosphere. Like the rest of the team I have all week to decide what my final painting will look like.

 1114 Venice 12x12 oil on linen (1-15-17)

 1115 Unfinished 20x16 oil on linen (1-21-16)

 1116 Magistry 12x12 oil on linen (1-22-17)

I can't wait, because this coming Saturday and Sunday, I and the team get our first opportunity to show our stuff doing our final project of the month. In the meantime, I'll do some homework by doing a few more 12x12's as a warm up for Saturday:=)

Sunday, January 22, 2017


I always know when we have a good day at Swimming-in-Paint.......few photos to share. But, at the last moment I got a few before we got out of there. The team, like last week, stayed on their painting plan..."get to know your subject a bit before jumping in on our more formal painting" which we'll tackle next weekend. Time flies when you're having fun:=)









"Sunday Painters", I'll be at Crossroads at 9:30am to open the doors. The first thing we'll do is turn up the heat! Damp and chilly here this morning...

Saturday, January 21, 2017


This year each month the first (3) Sundays is designated as single sessions and make-up dates. Last Sunday, our first of the year, was a mixed bag of old friends getting together and a few putting their toes into the sandbox for the first time with us.

The team, like last year, jumped right in. I was struck by the diversity shown below. So we had a good day. I also noticed some cleaner palettes, working off single piles of paint and a bit less paint on them and me and more on the canvas where it belongs!  "Progress" the coach loves to see!








I'm headed on over to Crossroads now to open the doors at 9:30 for the Saturday team......can't wait to see their smiley faces this morning because I'm in the mood to paint!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Getting back in the groove

WOW! Last week was hectic, getting back into the painting groove after a long holiday always is. Like the first day at school, exciting but not sure what to expect and a million questions. After the first day I was always glad when the last bell rang..... unless we were doing art projects, then there was no limit on my time. Swimming-in-Paint is a bit like that. If you're not at a stopping point no one wants to pack-up and leave...not even me:=)

This year Swimming-in-Paint is a bit different from last. Our class will cover a full month. We have three Saturdays set aside for quick studies - basically working on a single theme chosen at the outset. The last weekend of the month, Saturday and Sunday, is left to a more serious work based on our previous three Saturdays. The process will be repeated each month throughout the year.

(The first three weeks)
Our first class gave me some visual material to assemble a mission board for the team going forward. 



The hunt has many elements attached to it besides horses and riders in red riding coats. The hounds, the fox, the landscape setting, trees, sky and weather conditions.......hummmm. Well, no question when it's laid out like this, there's a lot of moving parts to a grand painting theme. Because of that, each element depends on the next, any weakness distracts from the whole and why paintings can fail.

Ideally a representational artist needs to paint anything well so it makes sense to organize and work one step at a time........toward an end goal.

Can't wait to see how this plays out in our last weekend!!

The team, this year is using Jerry's cost effective Centurion oil linen painting pads for our first 3-week exercise. The pads are effective, easy to store flat and if worthy of a frame can be stretched. Blue tape keeps it contained and gives us a preview of what it might look like in a frame. My favorite part, ripping the tape off! 

"Every painting presents problems, how fast we solve them will have an everlasting effect on our result. Keep it simple, work on your weakness! "