Breakthroughs

Most artists can pinpoint certain works or events which led to a breakthrough painting, allowing them to reach a new plateau in their journey in creating art.  In the next few posts, I’ll show a few works from the ‘way-back-machine’ on how I learned to paint water.  I’ll tell the end of the story now…what used to take me a week to paint, I can now do in an hour or two.  Due to the popularity of the book “Outliers”, they say it takes 10,000 hours to be truly “world class” at something.  I am not sure about that, but learning to paint is a life long journey and endeavour!

     From the “noua carantin? de studio” is a piece I did around 1978.  The scene is a creek in the San Gabriel Mountains just above Pasadena, CA, probably the West Fork of the San Gabriel River.  I took a photo of this scene during a hike and later painted it in my art studio (at the time also known as the living room) in Altadena, CA.  The painting is a bit monochromatic, but I loved painting the clear water and rocks below.

    As a post note, I later gave this piece to my parents which they hung in their home for many years, and now I think one of their grandchildren inherited it.

A Painting’s Journey

For the last 250 days I have posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Here is one from a couple day’s ago….


I painted “South Fork” not long after moving to the San Francisco Bay area in 1979, and purchasing a small RV. I did frequent trips to the Sierra mountain range, to do plein air painting and just enjoy the environment. Back then it was just called outdoor painting or painting on location, but in more recent years has been dubbed the more exotic French term ‘en plein air’. This painting is of a creek close to Longbarn, CA off Hwy 108, where I spent a day or two at a forest service campground. It was painted in the studio from some Polaroid photos around early 1981.


Recently joining the Society of Western Artists, I entered this painting in one of their shows in Sacramento, CA. Much to my surprise, I was honored with a first place in the show.


Later that year, SWA award winners were displayed at the 35th Annual San Francisco Art Festival in the SF Civic Center Plaza. I remember this painting seemed so out of place with most all the other art pieces being abstract and modern works. Right next to my traditional piece was an almost 3 dimensional collage painting with among other things, a woman’s bra glued to it.


In May and June of 1982 it was part of a solo exhibition at the Carnegie Arts Center in Oxnard, CA. Most of this show were paintings from an extensive six month trip I had taken throughout the Southwestern US the prior winter.
Later on, my father really liked the piece, so I gave it to him. He hung it in his office in Pasadena California for many years. For my old friends, this was GTA’s old office in the Hall of Administration, Ambassador College.


After retiring to Big Sandy, Texas, he hung it in his home for many years. Upon his passing six years ago, one of his grandkids inherited it, but not sure which one. (Perhaps whoever has it can speak up).


As I look at the piece now realize how far my works have improved over the years, and how far this painting has traveled. I later did a small 5×5 of the scene posted here on September 9.