I capture the spirit of People and Places. I am particularly interested in recording the passage of time. My unique compositions evolve from my passion for observing nature.
I paint on the coasts of The Florida Everglades and The Atlantic Ocean. This part of the world is like a cocoon of water. The fragile land exists because we engineered the water flow. Each shore is an homage to Nature’s Time Cathedral.
These are stunning places. Lately, I have painted en Plein air — outside and present — during twilight. The dance of light on the sky and water inspire my painter’s passion for color.
It’s like worshiping in “Nature’s Time Cathedral.” People show up to meditate, think, and walk. No one speaks. Anyone is welcome. We are all fellow humans.
“The representational elements of the landscape are like a frame around an abstract painting of the sky. I see the sky as an area in the painting where I can do anything I want. My work is based in obviously recognizable elements, but I have fun as a painter, too — and the sky gives me complete freedom of expression.”
from “A Unique Approach to Tonalism” (PleinAir Magazine, February/March 2019)
Eternity, 2021, Oil on linen, 40 x 9″ – Available
Sensing The Passage of Time
Both sunrise and sunset are the Golden Hour. The “hour” changes according to the seasonal day. The length of the light shows changes with the seasons. The “Blue Hour” follows the sunset and precedes the sunrise. These are the hours to worship Nature’s Time Cathedral.
Twilight is the glow before sunrise and after sunset. Twilight divides into three phases — Civil, Nautical, and Astronomical twilight. The whole show is over pretty close to the middle of civil twilight. Once the sun rises, I am off to work. The changes of light take my breath away, make me eternally grateful, and give me immense joy.
My paintings record the memory of light and the passage of time. It is hard to photograph the changing twilight. Yes, you can photograph the image, but the color of light is so elusive, so radiant, it is almost impossible to catch. Painting this light is a personal touch of complementary colors . The colors of the spectrum scatter as the lightwaves move behind the turning earth.
Bold color choices are essential. Twilight is not timid. You must work fast and furious. My goal is to catch the light, not the details.
Contact me if you would like to paint en Plein air. Join a band of local painters and me. Experience the struggles and victories of outside painting. Weather permitting.
Babylonian Time — a Different Way to Measure
The Babylonians measured time differently 2500 years ago. They calculated time from the position of the sun in the sky. They divided the duration of sunlight into twelve equal hours per day for each season.
The Babylonian Seasonal Clock tells Seasonal time. Time measured in seasonal hours. The name of these hours is “Simanu” in Akkadian.
Winter in Maine would be exciting. The days are short, and the nights are long. A daylight hour would be short, but those night hours would go on forever.
What makes twilight landscape paintings so beautiful?
Stephen F. Corfidi of the NOAA Storm Prediction Center writes about what we see in his paper, The Colors of Sunset and Twilight.
Remember our old buddy, ROY G BIV? These are the colors of the different wavelengths in the light spectrum. Each wavelength registers as a different color in your brain. Yup, the rainbow.
Light changes color because of a phenomenon called scattering. A scientific term that describes the re-direction of light by small particles.
Scattering the wavelengths with air molecules makes us see the sky as blue, not violet. We see a blue sky because human eyes are more sensitive to blue than the scattered violet light.
As the earth turns away from the sun, the path of the sunlight gets longer. Violet and blue light scatter in the distance. That is why the light that reaches you early and late in the day turns red orange.
The light must travel a longer distance. More particles and the distance scatter the violet and blue wavelengths, leaving more of the RO in the ROY G BIV.
Sunsets glow red because the daytime sky is blue.
Clean air is the main ingredient of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Our best light shows are over the ocean and the Everglades. These bodies of water have no structures, no cars, and a great span of clear space. Natures’s Time Cathedral is a sacred place.
What is Painting “en Plein air?”
En Plein air is a French word. It means “painting outdoors’. Plein air painters are a tribe of artists who interpret what they see outside. Plein air painters face unusual challenges. Like frequent light changes, bugs can nibble at your body, and people who love talking to you. Most of the time, they are very complementary.
Great Plein air painters come ready to work. They can set up and break down their gear in two minutes. A typical painting session lasts about 3 hours. The light changes, you get tired of your position, and you might have to use the bathroom.
Plein air painters are very resourceful. Besides our precious paint and art supplies, we NEVER forget your business cards, a hat, bug spray, sunscreen, water, and an energy bar. We usually don’t forget the same tool twice.
As with any artwork, design is the key to success. Blocking in value to create space is a crucial backbone of any painting. A limited palette and looking at the whole instead of details are keys to success.
Painting en Plein air makes you respect the passage of time. You are “on the clock!” You must grab the moment before the light changes. Understand what you want and go for it. And, yes, not all of them will be “keepers.” Learning anything demands stamina.
Life Drawing — Observing The Life Within
Painting and drawing people also require time. People do not stay still — unless you pay them as models. Working from life allows you to observe momentary changes. Changes in their expressions, how they converse, how the light falls over their features. You understand the shape of their features as they move, smile, and respond to stimuli.
In other words, you spend the time getting to know them. Not all the dark personal secrets but how they react to the world. People who draw learn to catch the shape of a face, a head, and a body from across the room. You know your best friend or family member from across the room. It’s all in the shapes. It’s all in the gestalt.
It takes time to develop your artistic hand. It is essential to learn anatomy and practice drawing people from life. The “gift” that people assume we artists possess is the passion for learning and working for this knowledge.
Contact me if you would like to pursue Life Drawing OR honor someone or something with a commissioned portrait. Life Drawing and painting is my passion — my most favorite class to teach. You will learn to appreciate and worship Human Nature’s Time Cathedral.