OPS was formed to create opportunities and incentives for artists of like mind to come together and paint ...........En Plein Air



Visit often to read about various topics including plein air tips and exhibition reviews. 

Posts are authored by OPS members and guest artists.

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  • February 17, 2019 3:04 PM | Nancy Tyler (Administrator)

    Q: The South Texas coastal area is different from the mountains that inspire your passion.  Have you painted and/or visited the hot, humid, windy, and mostly sunny Texas Gulf Coast area before?

    A: I’ve visited the coast (Port Aransas), but never painted there.  Yes, quite different from the Rockies but whenever I go to a new place the “ newness” itself becomes exciting and inspirational.  

    Q: What is your method, or steps, of "separating the cream from the milk” when judging a large show?     What do you look for?

    A: When I'm jurying a show the first thing I look at is "design".  Whether it's an abstract or a representational piece, an artists’ ability to create movement and balance through the arrangement of shapes within it serves to either draw the viewer in or drive them away.  And once I'm drawn into a piece by the overall design the second thing I look at is what is the story or mood and how well is it portrayed.  And does it work in harmony with the composition to enhance the overall concept?   Finally, determining how well the concept is portrayed relies on Execution…technical skills like draftsmanship and paint quality.  So naturally these become vital in measuring the ultimate merit of a painting.

    Q: What is one of your pet peeves on judging?  

    A: Only one I can think of is with online jurying… Finding that the actual painting doesn’t quite live up to the digital file.

    Questions about the workshop in the DFW area:

    Q: How do you like to structure the workshops?     

    A: My favorite workshop format is my Plein Air to Studio workshop.  We paint outdoors and then bring our reference materials (photos/plein air studies) back into the studio to design a studio painting.  I begin with a slideshow called Capturing the Atmosphere: An Introduction to Color Relationships in a Landscape.  It helps define some terms and get everybody speaking the same language.  And then we get outside to paint a couple times before getting back to the studio to discuss ways of redesigning them into larger pieces.  Taking an idea through to the “end game" helps everyone better define what they need to capture in the beginning.  And we realize everyone’s perfect plein air painting experience and result is quite different. 

    Q: What specific area of painting will be your focus during the workshop? (ie. composition, brushwork, edges, etc.) 

    A: Learning to create atmosphere and depth is the overriding principle that I cover.  But within that concept, I also cover just about every major aspect of creating a landscape painting (Composition, Color Relationships, Edges, etc.).

    Q: What little bit of advice can you share with a discouraged painter who is technically adept but is struggling to achieve that “Wow" factor?

    A: Focus on the statement.  Landscape painting is more than rendering a scene precisely but it’s about describing how we feel about that scene.  And with this approach, sometimes Technical ability can get in the way since often times the simple statement has more impact.  It’s quite the irony… The longer we paint the more technical ability we gain, and the more we are able to do.  But ultimately it’s less that’s usually required not more.  Although I will say this, it takes quite a bit of skill to be brief.
  • June 20, 2018 2:59 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Plein Air Southwest 2018 announces winners

    Posted onJune 17, 2018

    The Outdoor Painters Society made some big moves this year, according to President Tina Bohlman.

    “Late in the Spring of last year, the OPS board decided that it was time to take a different path with our annual juried membership exhibition, Plein Air Southwest.  As an outdoor painting group, we felt that our annual event should be a true outdoor competition.  Not only did we redesign the competition, we also opted to relocate the show and change the time schedule from early April to late May.  The board decided to approach the Rockport Center for the Arts as a host venue; it seemed a natural fit since the Rockport/Fulton area of Texas is a favorite of many of our state’s members.”

    Tina Bohlman

    Tina Bohlman

    "Up for Repairs-Cove Harbor" - 16" x 12" - Watercolor

    “Up for Repairs-Cove Harbor” – 16″ x 12″ – Watercolor


    Through Bohlman’s persistent hard work, the Rockport Center for the Arts embraced the idea of hosting a week-long paint out, followed by a “wet paint” exhibition. The contract was signed, then two-weeks later Hurricane Harvey hit the area, totally destroying the Center. For more than three months the Center had no home, yet none of their programs, exhibits or events were canceled. Finally, they were able to reestablish operations in downtown Rockport. Seeing the determination and willingness of the Art Center’s board of directors and staff to continue providing art programs for the area, and with a desire to help the Center keep a normal schedule, plans for making Plein Air Southwest 2018 happen moved forward. So, during the week of May 21st,  52 plein air painters converged on the Gulf Coast town of Rockport, Texas.

    Bohlman continues, “Outdoor Painters Society was welcomed with open arms…not only at the Art Center, but across the street at Wind Way Gallery.  The artist/partners in the gallery, stripped their walls bare  to make room for the over-flow of non-competition paintings created  during the week. Everywhere we painted, people came up to us and told us they were so glad we were there…capturing their town.  The citizens of Rockport/Fulton obviously understand the benefits of having art and artists in their community. For 7 days, Outdoor Painters Society paid tribute to the rebuilding of Rockport, a community which steadfastly preserves the area’s authentic identity and offers its heritage and history as a cultural treasure.  Visitors travel to Rockport/Fulton so they can experience – if only for a little while – a sense of the quality of life there.  Locals and visitors alike enjoyed the rare chance to share in the true magic of the creative process with OPS competition artists; a unique opportunity to learn about outdoor painting, support art education in the community and meet some of the nation’s top plein air artists.  For the artists…. It was a great week of heat, wind, hard work, fun & camaraderie – you can bet that we’ll be back!”

    Plein Air Southwest has earned the reputation as one of the premier events of Spring. The Outdoor Painters Society sponsors the event to showcase the incredible talent within our membership and to promote an appreciation for the process of painting “en plein air”.  All works are completed outdoors on location and are characterized by the bold use of color, design and the freshness of paint application. For more information about the Outdoor Painters Society, or to become a member, please click HERE.

    Here are the 2018 winners. Congratulations to each of you. Click images to enlarge.

    "High and Dry" -16" x 20" - Oil"Harvey Was Here" - 16" x 16" - OilSuzie Baker

    Suzie Baker - Best of Show - High and Dry – 16″ x 20″ – Oil; Artist’sChoice Harvey Was Here – 16″ x 16″ – Oil - I chose to paint these views because they tell the story of this community. Nine months ago, Hurricane Harvey hammered this gulf coast fishing town relentlessly. The devastation can still be observed but so can the pride of its residents. Harvey may have torn apart fences and hulls of vessels, but he also galvanized this community like never before. It was my honor and privilege to record this time and place in the history of Rockport. May it ever be “Rockport Strong”!



    "Rockport Dusk" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    sacronJason Sacron Award of Excellence -  Rockport Dusk – 16″ x 20″ – Oil - I was actually painting another scene when I looked to my right and saw this scene…crashing waves and dusk setting in. I thought to myself for a second “this is too sweet to paint.” But I quickly switched gears and tried it anyway. I had to come back the next day to finish it as that time of day only lasts moments. I was lucky though, it gave me pretty much the same evening clouds, light situation etc, so I was able to finish in the two short sessions. What I really loved about this was I couldn’t piddle around. I had to hit it fast and furious and it made for a spontaneous and fresh piece.



    "Ready for Dawn" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    saunders-1Patrick Saunders Award of ExcellenceReady for Dawn – 16″ x 20″ – Oil - I’ve never been comfortable with painting nocturnes due to my difficulty with night vision after having eye surgery. I’ve only attempted two night paintings in the past, but I decided to use the Plein Air Southwest event as an opportunity to push out of my comfort zone. When I saw this shrimp boat at 4 a.m. in Rockport Harbor, the thought of painting it made me so nervous that I decided to give it a shot. Always best to paint what scares you.




    "Morning Harbor" - 9" x 12" - Oil

    frossardDiane Frossard - Quick Draw Award Morning Harbor – 9″ x 12″ – Oil - To capture the light and atmosphere, looking into the sun rising on the harbor, I simplified most everything into a silhouette and then painted the shapes of light hitting the tops of the forms. The sun reflecting on the water was BLINDING in this contre-jour subject, so I had to move my easel back, beside my 4-Runner, and view it through the set of rear windows which diffused the glare (and saved my retinas!). Thankfully I had enough information down before a shrimper docked and totally blocked my view. I don’t recommend staring into direct sunlight… but it worked out!



    "We Will Rebuild" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    batheBeth Bathe - Award of Excellence - We Will Rebuild – 16″ x 20″ – Oil - Rockport Texas was at the epicenter of Hurricane Harvey this past September. The town is still covered in blue tarps, boarded up and partly closed.  But there is also rebuilding by the hum of generators and contractors putting the town back together again. Painting there, I was looking for a setting that represented this proud community, something damaged by the storm, but still showed strength and beauty. The shrimping boat out at the horizon symbolizes how life is still going on…and the dock, still standing on strong footings.



    "Torn Sails" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    rohm-1Bob Rohm - Award of Excellence Torn Sails – 16″ x 20″ – Oil - I was exploring sights to paint near a dry dock boat yard when I found these three old sail boats under repair. I painted the one in the morning and returned after lunch to paint them again. I walked around them exploring angles and discovered this view featuring all three. Like a pinwheel they looked good all the way round but I preferred the side light from this angle, especially the way it lit the back of one while the others were in shadow.




    "Walkway to the Beach" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    meagherSpencer Meagher - Award of Merit Walkway to the Beach – 16″ x 20″ – Oil - Initially needing a shaded place to frame paintings, I found shelter from the intense midday sun under an elevated walkway leading to Copano Bay. After framing I noticed the intense cast shadow of the walkway. Something about the repetitive, dark arcs from the bridge drew me in. My goal was to convey to the viewer the intensity of brightness and the heat of the day. The simple, dark shadows not only made for a strong design that moves the eye through the painting, but their contrast made a great complement to the warmth of the sunlit sand in the background.



    "West Sirius, Sea Drill" - 14" x 11" - Oil

    summersGreg Summers - Award of Merit West Sirius, Sea Drill – 14″ x 11″ – Oil - First time ever to view an oil derrick and was struck with awe by the immensity of these things, even for Texas it’s huge! There were 3 in a row, and Richard Sneery, who I was painting with, said he’s taking the one in the middle, I can have either end. That was the easy part, simplifying and making some sort of sense of this modern marvel was the challenge. As I painted I noticed the atmospheric change from it’s base to its towers, wow who would believe? Well it was as thrilling to paint as it was to view.




    "Airing the Nets" - 9" x 12" - Oil

    clemensTed Clemens - Award of Merit  Airing the Nets – 9″ x 12″ – Oil - The first attempt for the week, this one took a couple of sessions at Fulton Harbor. I was unfamiliar with boats and water, but after one false start, I got the composition worked out, then went back the next afternoon. A few things had changed and the nets had been taken down—but there was enough to go by to finish up. The fresh look also revealed some errors to fix.




    "Stilted" - 8" x 16" - Oil

    arnettJoe Anna Arnett - Award of Merit Stilted – 8″ x 16″ – Oil - The coast of Texas is “target rich” for artists.  There is so much to paint.  These bright houses on stilts have always fascinated me.  I was not sure there would be any remaining, post Harvey, and was delighted that so many have been restored to their glory. The long format seemed the best complement to this subject. Because of the bright colors (I did the colors that were there), I felt the subject might get a touch saccharin.  I gave the sky a little trouble in order to keep it out of that sweet category.



    "Dunes on the Beach" - 9" x 12" - Oil

    franklinKaye Franklin - Award of Merit Dunes on the Beach – 9″ x 12″ – Oil - This scene was on the beach in Port Aransas on a hot and windy morning. The area was very inspiring with the light hitting the dunes and the shapes of the shadows. I was going for an impression of light and shadow in a simple design and the smaller canvas made that possible. The beach is a great place for high key paintings and I enjoy painting beach scenes.




    "The Big Tree" - 20" x 20" - Oil

    gordonNyle Gordon - Award of Merit The Big Tree – 20″ x 20″ – Oil - This ancient tree is estimated to be over 1,000 years old and was a joy to paint.   Located in a secluded area of Goose Island, this colossal oak was awe inspiring.  The challenge was to capture the sheer scale and span of its far reaching limbs.





    "The Red Trim" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    caggianoJohn Caggiano -  Award of Merit The Red Trim – 16″ x 20″ – Oil - I came upon a row of docked fishing boats one evening in Rockport, Texas. One was better than the next. Each had a distinctive shape and color, as well as different rigging. I love painting nocturnes. They make any subject, even when bland, dramatic and haunting, especially when aided by an accommodating light source. And so, out of the dozens of boats, I chose the one in the painting. I loved the red trim and the cast light from the lamppost above me, which lit both the subject and my canvas. I did not use my cool light clip-ons and depended solely on the warmer and dimmer light above me. I worked on the painting two evenings and surprisingly, except for small areas, the color was compatible and the values correct within acceptable parameters.


    "Looking for the Pearl" - 14" x 11" - Oil

    EllisorFran Ellisor - Award of Merit Looking for the Pearl – 14″ x 11″ – Oil - I grew up on the Texas coast, fishing, crabbing and shucking oysters with my Dad and sisters. When my Dad opened the oysters, we would scramble forward, looking for the pearl.  This alley was paved with oyster shells;  some were crushed and some were perfect half shells. The light was beautiful and I stopped to check out the possibility.  I looked down and saw many half shells.  I guess I’ve always been “looking for the pearl”.  I found one here that day in the joy of painting this work.




    "Down But Not Forgotten" -

    kidwell--rChristy Kidwell -  Award of Merit Down But Not Forgotten – 12″ x 16″ – Oil - I knew I wanted to paint “Down” the minute I saw those ruined hulks tossed about by Harvey, silhouetted against the sky.  Rockport was my mother’s home and the trip back was bittersweet.  There has been a lot of progress since the hurricane, yet so much history was blown away in the storm.  As I was painting in the shade of another boat, a man came along to make repairs. We got to visiting and it turns out he had worked on the boats that were part of the shrimping business my grandfather had founded.  It seems that everyone in Rockport is connected in some way.  It is this spirit of working together that has made them survivors and “Rockport Strong”!



    "Alley Blues" -

    PalecekDK Palecek - Honorable Mention “Alley Blues” – 9″ x 12″ – Oil - After taking a beating trying to paint shrimp boats the first few days (no shrimp boats in Wisconsin) I returned to my current fetish with beat up old buildings and alley-way patinas. Rather than the charming shop facades lining the main street, I chose the alley view.  The early morning shadows on white brick from this strange new light source grabbed my attention. Needless to say, the heat of the Texas shoreline was a welcome change from the thirty-degree morning temperatures I was coming from.




    "Cove Harbor Clouds" - 12" x 12" - Oil

    frossardDiane Frossard - Honorable Mention Cove Harbor Clouds – 12″ x 12″ – Oil - A low horizon, fairly subdued landscape, focuses attention on the sky. Foreground grasses lead the eye to the boats and the tallest boat mast (placed near the golden section) points to the cloud. I quickly blocked in cloud shapes & color notes before the light changed too much. As I started filling in the clouds and sky, I noticed my big cloud had turned into an uninteresting symmetrical blob so I had to do some cutting and reshaping. I went back a second morning to finish the landscape. My paintings will always remind me of Rockport’s warm, friendly, welcoming atmosphere.



    "Copano Bay" - 10" x 20" - Oil

    rawleChuck Rawle - Honorable Mention – Copano Bay – 10″ x 20″ – Oil -“ Copano Bay” was painted from underneath a bridge that provided welcome shade and a cool breeze on a hot, sunny day.  I initially started to paint this scene in a smaller, cropped format.  After studying the scene for a few minutes, I saw this arrangement that almost painted itself.




    "Bait Shop" - 9" x 12" - Oil

    roper-1Stuart Roper - Honorable Mention - Bait Shop – 9″ x 12″ – Oil - There were plenty of subjects from which to choose during the PASW 2018, but when this big orange crustacean caught my eye, I couldn’t resist.  The contrasting cool and complimentary shadows and surrounding water immediately grabbed my attention and filled me with inspiration. This little jewel of a Bait Shop was a perfect subject, challenging and wonderfully fun to attempt to capture before the afternoon light slipped below the horizon.  What an honor to have had the opportunity to participate in this year’s event alongside so many talented, inspiring and super nice fellow artists.



    "Surfer's Delight" - 12" x 16" - Oil

    devereauxCarol Devereaux - Honorable Mention  - Surfer’s Delight – 12″ x 16″ – Oil - This painting was from the first day of the Plein Air event, Port Aransas.  Storms were brewing, cloudy, red flag day.  A few brave souls were checking the waves for surfing.  I started painting around 9am, finished up around noon.  By 12:30 the storms came through and stayed till late afternoon.  Because of the upcoming holiday weekend, I did not have the time to spend in the lines for the ferry to return to Port Aransas.  Thank you to Joshua Been for the award of Honorable Mention.   Fun show, great place to paint.



    "Fulton Harbor Morning" - 16" x 16" - Oil

    SimoneRobert J. Simone – Honorable Mention – Fulton Harbor Morning – 16″ x 16″ – Oil - The marine subject matter available in Fulton/Rockport was fantastic.  But I wanted to paint something that was more than just another shrimp boat painting.  So, I decided to use the abstract shapes of the boats and nets to frame the morning light as it glared off the bay waters just beyond the harbor. Designed this way, the boats are subordinate to the light.  Subdued color choices were made to help convey the peacefulness of mornings at the harbor.  A bonus was that several colleagues remarked how the painting reminded them of Emile Gruppe’s work.  I’ll take that any day!



    "Texas Oaks" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    ThomasSherri Thomas Honorable Mention – Texas Oaks – 16″ x 20″ – Oil - I’m amazed at how many oak trees survived Hurricane Harvey. They twist and bend to fit the environment and I found them irresistible to paint. A scene of resilience by the roadside.



    Images not shown:

    Beverly Boren – Award of Merit – Beach Strollers – 9″ x 12″ – Oil

    Tammie Lane – Award of Merit – Rudy’s Boat – 12″ x 12″ – Oil

  • April 30, 2018 10:39 AM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Four qualities of “Value”

    Posted onApril 29, 2018

    I’m sure many of you are familiar with the name and works of Andrew Loomis (1892-1959). If you’re a former commercial illustrator, as I was, you most likely have some of his books on your bookshelf…Fun With a Pencil, Figure Drawing For All It’s WorthDrawing the Head and Hands, Successful Drawing, and Creative Illustration…and possibly others I don’t know about. He was a very successful illustrator, having his own studio in Chicago, but he was an even more successful author and teacher. His books are comprehensive and clearly written and sold in the hundreds of thousands. He studied under the tutelage of George Bridgman and Frank DuMond at the Art Students League of New York. His book Creative Illustration is one of my favorites. His chapter on tone  is a powerful confirmation and reminder of it’s importance for us painters.

    Artist’s still debate with one another about which is more important…value or color. To me, there is no debate…it’s value. It’s the value that establishes mood, color only enhances it. Color of the wrong value will quickly destroy a painting’s overall unity.

    Andrew Loomis

    Andrew Loomis



    Illustration by Andrew Loomis

    Illustration by Andrew Loomis

    This is such a great example of a color's value. Just because a color is very bright, and therefore appears light, its actual value can surprise us.

    This is such a great example of a color’s value. Just because a color is very bright, and therefore appears light, its actual value can surprise us.


    When Andrew Loomis speaks of tone, referencing drawing and painting, he is referring to value. Loomis therefore describes tone as “the degree of value between white and black – the lightness or darkness of a value in relationship to other values.” He describes four essential properties of tone:


    Four Essential Properties of Tone


    1 – Intensity of light in relation to shadow. “All light and shadow bears relationship. The brighter the light the darker the shadow appears, by contrast. The lower the light the more nearly the shadow approaches the value appearing in the light. In a diffused light, the lights and shadows become diffused also. In a dim hazy light the lights and shadows are very close in value. So we find that the relationship of light to shadow depends entirely upon the intensity of the light.”

    Julien Dupre - "A Shepherd and His Flock" - 25.5" x 32.75" - Oil

    Julien Dupre – “A Shepherd and His Flock” – 25.5″ x 32.75″ – Oil

    217 - Dupre-r


    2 – Relationship of value to all adjacent tones. “The ‘patterns’ or areas within a picture bear a relationship to one another. If one area, for example, is two tones darker than another, it has a two-tone-darker relationship. It is this relationship that must be held. We can then place them anywhere in the scale so long as we keep them two tones apart. Thus we can key all the values high or low and still maintain the relationship.”

    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - "Evening Landscape" - Oil

    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot – “Evening Landscape” – Oil

    270 - Corot - r


    3 – Identification of the nature and quality of light. “By the kind and relationship of values the picture takes on the kind and quality of light. If the values are right the subject appears to be in sunlight, daylight, or night light as the case may be. One part of a picture with wrong values may suggest a strong light – another part, a diffused light. This sets up an inconsistency with nature and makes a hodgepodge of your picture. All lighting must be consistent throughout, which means all values must fall within one of the intensities described and also be consistent, for only with true values can we paint light.”

    Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov - "The Commander's House in Brestovets" - Oil

    Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov – “The Commander’s House in Brestovets” – Oil

    polenov - r


    4 – Incorporation of the influence of reflected light. “Shadows, besides having an intensity relationship to light which puts them so many tones below, are also subject to another influence. Everything upon which the light shines gives off some of that light in reflected light. So shadows cannot be made to fit any rule entirely. If light is shining on a white background, naturally some of that light will reflect into the shadows of objects near by. Nearly all shadows contain some reflected light in any daytime or natural light. Reflected light is really luminosity within the shadow.”

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida - "Children on the Seashore" - 37.75" x 50.75" - Oil (Sorolla was a master of reflected light)

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida – “Children on the Seashore” – 37.75″ x 50.75″ – Oil   (Sorolla was a master of reflected light)

    186 - Sorolla-r


  • April 23, 2018 1:46 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    George Van Hook interview

    Posted onApril 22, 2018

    One could easily assume by reading George Van Hook’s responses to  my interview questions that he is a quiet, few words kind of guy, who carefully and thoughtfully ponders and measures each word very carefully before speaking, and then, and only then, does he say just enough to make his point. As I learned in a short conversation with him, but more importantly from an interview he had with media mogul, Eric Rhoads, that assumption would be totally incorrect.

    Van Hook is wound tight…a spring that can hardly wait to release its energy; you can actually see it in his work. He is like an inflated balloon released into the air, full of boundless energy, enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge, pent up, just waiting to be released. I think the picture of him, seen below, reflects that.

    He is a voracious reader, blessed with a sharp, quick, inquisitive mind, so quick that the words coming from his mouth cannot keep up with his thoughts. If you haven’t heard his incredible interview with Eric Rhoads, you need to; you’ll know what I mean. You may access that HERE.

    Even though George’s responses to my questions are short, they are to the point. I’m so grateful to him and his wife, Sue, who assembled his responses, for their contribution to this blog. Enjoy this interview. (Click on the images to enlarge).


    “I think of my paintings as primarily a visual response to the selected environment, be it landscape, figure or still life. I want the color to be beautiful and the drawing firm and secure. The paintings are a marriage of external and internal forces. What emerges on the canvas should be a reflection of both the beauty of the world and the artist’s most inner response.”



    gvh - George at Easel, b&w


    When did you decide to become an artist, and how did that come about?   I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember.  Four of the six siblings are professionally involved in the arts. It is just what we do.

    What kind of training have you received?   I’ve painted all of my life, studied with many people, attended several schools, but the most important training has been copying master paintings in art museums.

    What would be your definition of art and what part does it play within society?   My definition of art is limited.  My definition of art is the very best painting I can do. What role it plays in society won’t be determined for at least two generations.

    As a painter of plein air landscapes, what do you hope to communicate?   The only person I need to communicate with is me. I paint to find out who I am; what the outside world sees in that is up to each one of them.

    "Dockside" - 20" x 16" - Oil

    “Dockside” – 16 x 20″ – Oil

    "At the Pier" - 20" x 16" - Oil (Grand Prize, Lighthouse Art Center Plein Air Show - 2016)

    “At the Pier” – 16″ x 20″ – Oil (Grand Prize, Lighthouse Art Center Plein Air Show – 2016)


    How do you go about choosing a subject; what are you looking for?   Anything can be a subject.  I’m not looking for subjects; I’m looking for design, color, and composition.

    Since most of your work is done en plein air, when creating a landscape painting in the studio, is your approach the same; if not, how does it differ?   All of my landscapes are painted en plein air; I never create a landscape in the studio. In the studio I paint figurative pieces and still life’s. My work is based on what I see.

    "At Rest" - 30" x 36" - Oil

    “At Rest” – 30″ x 36″ – Oil


    You work on some fairly large canvases outdoors; how do you manage that; are they painted in one session? Please explain your process.   Large paintings outdoors can take up to two years.  I simply work on them until they are finished.

    What colors are typically on your palette?   My palette is ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, alizarin crimson, cadmium red light, cadmium orange, viridian, cad yellow medium, cad yellow light, and titanium white.

    Heavy paint application and use of texture is a striking feature of your work; I’m interested in how that originated; was that something you were taught, or did it evolve naturally?   I’ve always painted with a full brush and I’ve always followed the dictum – let the paint do the work. It is a natural extension of my physicality.

    "Dockside" (Detail)

    “Dockside” (Detail)


    I believe one’s technique/style is directly tied to one’s personality; what does your style say about you?   My approach is direct and purposeful.

    Do you consider the process of painting more important than the result?   I consider them one in the same.

    What are the three major things you have learned as a painter of plein air landscapes?   Three?  How about three thousand ?

    When selecting a subject to paint, is that selection spontaneous or more analytical?…meaning…”I like this motif because…”    I am painting all of the time. The images and the painting, and my existence, are all constantly in flux.

    What are the key points one needs to know when creating a true sense of atmosphere?   Value, temperature, and edges

    There are varying points of view as to what qualifies as a plein air painting; what’s your definition?   Painting outside.

    gvh - George with winning painting (1)


    Please put these words in order: value, framing, concept, technique, composition, color, drawing.   Value, concept, technique, composition, color, drawing, framing

    How do you know when a painting is finished?   To quote Michaelangelo, “When I am done.”

    "Hilltop" - 36" x 48" - Oil

    “Hilltop” – 36″ x 48″ – Oil


    What’s in your plein air kit?   Paint, brushes, panels, umbrella, French easel, bug spray.

    You are primarily a landscape painter, so what benefit have you discovered when painting still life and figurative works?   I trained as a figurative artist, as all western art since the renaissance is based on the figure. All good art stems from knowledge of the figure. Probably half of my work is made up of still life and figurative work.

    How do you go about promoting/selling your work?   From the very beginning, I’ve let galleries handle my work.  It has been a very successful relationship.

    Gallery show in Chatham

    Gallery show in Chatham


    Do you find it necessary to set yearly artistic goals?   Absolutely not.

    What has been the highlight of your artistic career to this point?   Picking up a brush this morning.

    If you were to teach someone to paint, how would you go about it?   Draw, draw, draw, draw.

    "Eagleville Bridge Fly Fishing" - 36" x 30" - Oil

    “Eagleville Bridge Fly Fishing” – 36″ x 30″ – Oil


    If you could spend the day with any three artists, past or present, who would they be?   Sargent, Sorolla, Zorn – same as everybody.

    Who has had the greatest influence on your career, and why?   Sue, sweet, Van Hook, my wife. All great art springs from love.

    How would you define “success” as an artist?   To quote my marvelous artist friend, Martin Wong, “Art is not a race, it’s a marathon dance from one who is standing at the end.”

    If you were stranded on an island, which three books would you want with you?   I read incessantly.  There are hundreds of books stacked around the house.  Three is a non-starter.


    To view more of George Van Hook’s work:



  • March 04, 2018 9:48 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Suzie Baker interview (Part 3)

    Posted onMarch 4, 2018

    In this final installment of Suzie Baker’s interview, she shares  her color theory, how to achieve atmospheric perspective and color harmony. Finally, she addresses the subject of art marketing. As I’ve stated before, Baker’s paintings are lively and full of joy; with that in mind, I wondered how she knows when a painting is finished. ”It’s finished when it looks the way I intended it to look in my head before I started painting. Admittedly though, I’ve got a box of paintings in my studio that merit some more attention. As time passes, it’s common to come upon solutions to old problems and want to apply them to good paintings that could be better.”

    I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Suzie Baker. (Click on images to enlarge)

    Suzie Greer Baker_preview -r



    What colors are typically on your palette?   This is often a sticky question for me to answer because my palette grows and shrinks in various situations. Here are the usual suspects though. Transparent Red Oxide (this replaced burnt sienna a while back and I love it for it’s color and transparent quality), Quinacridone Red, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Blue, Indian Yellow, Cad Yellow Light or Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ocher, Titanium White, and Solvent Free Gel.

    baker - paint

    Transparent Oxide Red, Cobalt Blue, Indian Yellow Red Shade, Titanium White, Solvent Free Gel

    "News Worthy" - 12" x 16" Oil (Plein Air Salon, May/Jun 2015 - First Overall)

    “News Worthy” – 12″ x 16″ Oil   (Plein Air Salon, May/Jun 2015 – First Overall)


    Do you have a color philosophy?   When I began to teach, I realized that I did a lot of things intuitively while painting that I needed to put into words in such a way that students could understand and apply them. The color section of my workshop lecture is full of information about color theory, how light and color relate, and how that knowledge allows artists to understand what they are seeing in order to make intentional decisions about color. I’ve been asked in the middle of my lecture, “Can’t I just paint what I see?” My response was, ‘Of course you can’, but for me, and many others, it’s helpful to know why it happens so that you can look for it and push the effect, if you choose.

    "Twinkle Lights" - 12" x 12" - Oil

    “Twinkle Lights” – 12″ x 12″ – Oil

    "Edward Inman Sr."- 16" x 20" - Oil (Sedona Art Prize 2017 - Second Overall)

    “Edward Inman Sr.”- 16″ x 20″ – Oil   (Sedona Art Prize 2017 – Second Overall)


    How do you achieve color harmony?   There are lots of ways to achieve color harmony. I may use some or all of these techniques in a single painting: Toning, limited palette, a limited number of brushes, and making use of those palette greys and mother pools I referred to earlier.

    How do you achieve atmospheric perspective?   Understanding how light affects color and knowing how atmospheric perspective works, allows the artists to make color choices that benefit the painting. I apply atmospheric perspective by making a background, or even a middle ground, cooler, less distinct and lighter in value. This is an effective way to direct the viewer’s attention and imply depth and distance on a two-dimensional surface.

    baker - triangle_preview


    Please put these words in order: color, composition, framing, drawing, technique, value, concept.   Can I put them in a triangle instead? These elements work together to make a masterful painting. Notice, I left off framing – framing is two things; it’s the first four lines of your composition, and it’s presentation. The perfect frame should be like a good bridesmaid, she makes the bride look good without drawing too much attention to herself.



    How do you use your website to sell your work?   Currently, I don’t sell my work online. I use my website to sell myself rather than specific paintings. I use it to showcase my work to galleries, collectors, event planners, magazine editors, workshop students and the public in general. If you are going to be a professional artist, you can’t do it without a website. I use a site builder called Good Gallery, which happens to be owned by my exceptionally talented brother, Rob Greer – google him, he’s a fantastic photographer. He designed the site specifically for photographers to be an image forward platform. I’m very pleased with it. Thanks Rob!

    "Where Angels Tread" - 12" x 9" - Oil

    “Where Angels Tread” – 12″ x 9″ – Oil

    "Orient Santa Fe Line" - 12" x 16" - Oil (OPA Western Regional 2017 - Award of Exccellence)

    “Orient Santa Fe Line” – 12″ x 16″ – Oil (OPA Western Regional 2017 – Award of Exccellence)


    How do you promote and sell your work other than through galleries and website?   This is a good time to ask that question. I just wrapped up my financial year from 2017 so it’s easy to tell what generated income. 72% came from painting sales and 19% from workshops with the remaining 9% coming from prize money and various sources. Those painting sales came from: plein air events, workshops students, direct sales, commissions and galleries, in that order. On the expenses side, travel took the top spot at nearly 30% with art supplies (including framing) at 20%. File that under the category, “It takes money to make money.” Making a living as an artist is a bit of a snow ball effect. You start small and build up as you roll along. Sometimes you have a nice slope to roll down and sometimes it’s more of a slog. As far as self-promotion goes, I have my website; I stay active on social media, including Facebook and Instagram; I send emails out to my distribution list; I have a public profile through Artwork Archive, and I run occasional ads. I enter competitions and consider the cost of submitting to shows a marketing expense. I think attending exhibitions and conventions is a significant element of self-promotion too. These events allow artists to meet and network with magazines reps, vendors, other artists, all while seeing great artwork and presentations.

    Here is a quote that, years ago, my mentor Rich Nelson shared with me, that his mentor shared with him. I hope it strikes home with you too. “Making it in this business is a two-step process: Step one, get good, step two, get out there, the better you are at step one, the better step two will go.” Bart Lindstrom

    "View from Camp" - 12" x 10" - Oil

    “View from Camp” – 12″ x 10″ – Oil


    Have you set career goals; is that an important thing to do, and how do you go about achieving them?   Yes! I cannot overstate the importance goal-setting has had on my career. Starting in 2010, I began setting yearly goals related to making progress in my business and artistic development. Early on, those goals revolved around getting my digital house in order and advancing the weak areas of my artistic skills. I set goals to enter shows and attended openings and conventions. In doing so, a quick glance at the level of work being produced on the national level in shows such as the OPA National Exhibition and the Portrait Society let me know that I needed to raise the bar in my work. I took a sober assessment and asked myself what was between me and that bar, then set to the tasks of lifting the level of my work. Even now, I look at the year ahead and develop some strategic objectives to complement those earlier goals.



  • February 26, 2018 1:18 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    This is 2nd in a 3-part series of interviews with OPS Signature member Suzie Baker by John Pototschnik

    Suzie Baker interview (Part 2)

    Posted onFebruary 25, 2018

    Suzie Baker is a prolific plein air painter. She just returned with a stack of paintings from Maui, Hawaii, after participating in the week-long Maui Plein Air Invitational. While she was away, the Art Renewal Center announced the winners of its 13th International Salon. Baker’s name can be found among the Finalists in the Plein Air and Figurative Categories. It’s quite an accomplishment, and shows her versatility. You can see how she created her winning figurative painting, “To Every Purpose”, in the video below. And, just now I learned she won another ribbon in Maui. So, what else is new?

    I asked Suzie, when painting on location, if she tries to capture the color of the motif as she sees it Her answer is interesting. Yes and no. Artists would never describe my work as photographic or hyper-realism, but I’ve been told at times by non-artists that my work looks like a photograph. In pondering this “compliment,” it occurred to me that what they are actually saying is that my painting conveys the spirit of the view in a way that communicates truth, the way a photo communicates truth. High praise indeed! I guess in painting and politics, you can leave out a lot of information and color. it any number of ways, and still seem to be telling the truth.”

    I’m pleased to share more of what Baker has to say concerning plein air painting in Part 2 of our interview. (Click on images to enlarge)




    Plein Air Painting


    There are many differing opinions as to what qualifies as a plein air painting: in your mind, what qualifies?   I think the definition matters most in plein air competitions where painting in the open air from life is the stated, or at the very least, implied expectation. They stamp blank canvases for a reason after-all! “En Plein Air Texas” specifically stipulates in their rules that no photography may be used in the production of competition paintings. An artist might however touch-up or minimally fix a troubling passage in a painting, away from the scene. I have no problem with that, but I do take issue with an artist who substantially paints their canvases in the comfort of their host home. If I’m out freezing, or sweating, or up at the crack of dawn, they should be too!!!!

    "Rows or Rose" - 6" x 8" - Oil

    “Rows or Rose” – 6″ x 8″ – Oil


    It appears that you are primarily a plein air painter; how much studio painting do you do, and does your process differ?   I may be better known for my plein air work, but I also paint in my studio on a regular basis and in life groups when I can. I paint what I am interested in, still-life, figurative, landscape, I like it all. I’m happy to follow a few muses simultaneously and see where they lead me. As far as my process goes, I generally paint with a loose alla prima technique, but it is always evolving as I experiment with new approaches. When working on figurative pieces in the studio, I work with a hired model. I begin working from life but often finish from a computer screen. Let me add that photography know how, particularly understanding white balance and how to make basic digital image adjustments, is an essential fund of knowledge for this dual resource approach. It’s important to know how the camera lies, and even more important to paint from life enough so that you recognizes those lies when you see them.

    baker - progression, to every

    “To Every Purpose” -  Study – 6″ x 12″  – Oil  (Progression)


    “To Every Purpose” – 40″ x 20″ – Oil  (Time Lapse Video)


    When you paint en plein air, what do you hope to accomplish?   I’ve got two answers for this question, depending on the circumstances. While painting at a plein air event/competition, first and foremost, I want to paint a worthy painting, a painting that I would be glad for a collector to purchase and hang on their wall, a painting that requires no qualifier of, “It was painted in 2-3 hours.” The long term merit of a painting will not be judged by how quickly and in what circumstances it was created; all that matters, in the end, will be its merits as a piece of artwork. Its distinction as a “plein air piece” may be just an historical footnote. Plein air painting, with its challenges and potential limitations, should not be an excuse for substandard artwork, rather, it is incumbent upon the artist to create quality paintings within those limitations. I’ll expand on some of the strategies I use to combat these limitations in some of the other questions. Secondly, if I am on a painting or hiking trip with friends, or out scouting, my goals will be to collect information, experiment, and practice. In those situations, my panels are usually small, 9×12 or less, and might end up going into a frame or just serving as a color study for something larger.


    “Plein air painting, with its challenges and potential limitations, should not be an excuse for substandard artwork; rather, it is incumbent upon the artist to create quality paintings within those limitations.”


    Many of your landscapes involve very transitory lighting/moods; how do you capture that en plein air?   The light at dawn and dusk is particularly appealing but exceptionally transitory. I would typically choose a smaller canvas in this circumstance, but there is a trend in plein air competitions to paint larger. I face these challenges in a few ways. I paint small oil sketches while scouting to get the idea, composition and colors sorted. I use an app called “Lumos” to see where the sun will rise and set…to take out some of the guesswork. I tone the surface ahead of time in a way that will support my idea for the finished piece. I arrive early to block-in the major shapes of the painting so that when the moment arises, I can quickly paint the most fleeting light effects, and finally, I often return to the same location with the same canvas for multiple passes.

    "Canyon Lake Sunset" - 4" x 6" - Oil

    “Canyon Lake Sunset” – 4″ x 6″ – Oil

    "Canyon Lake Glow" - 4" x 6" - Oil

    “Canyon Lake Glow” – 4″ x 6″ – Oil


    Do you premix your color before beginning a painting?   I don’t customarily premix, though I will squeeze out convenience colors, like greens and Gamblin’s radiant colors, when plein air painting. These colors help speed up the process, as long as I’m careful to keep my work harmonized. I am also careful to mix big piles of the colors that dominate a composition. I’ll use these “mother pools” of color to harmonize a painting, by bending the hue, saturation and value; that saves time of mixing each color individually. After my first painting, I will scrape up a pile of palette grey and place it to the side of my palette, often ending up with a variety of warm and cool grays as the week wears on. These grays serve nicely to desaturate and harmonize the colors.

    baker - backpack

    The plein air kit


    Please explain your painting process.   Let me answer this in terms of my plein air work, since that has been what we’ve talked about most here. I’ve found the following habits to be just as important to my finished paintings as the actual brush to canvas steps. Here goes: If it is my first year at an event, I try to arrive early and scout out the area. The first year is always the most intimidating, and scouting allows me to come up with a loose plan of where and when to paint; I say loose plan, because I allow myself to diverge from any charted course if inspiration presents itself. If I am returning to an event, I will review my photos from previous years and think about what I might like to revisit or check out anew. While scouting, I often do quick field sketches in oil or in my sketchbook, making note of the time of day and thinking through compositions. These habits, along with getting enough rest, eating well, and generally taking good care of myself, help lower stress and make me a happier painter! Before getting on location, I prep my backpack and squeeze out/freshen up my paint so that I’m ready to hit the ground running. The painting itself starts with a toned canvas and block-in of major shapes. My common painting method, whether en plein air or in the studio, is to work big shape to small shape, general to specific, big brush to small brush, dark to light, thin to thick.

    Part 3 will be posted next week.


  • December 31, 2017 3:24 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    It's with pleasure that I share with you the newest members to be awarded Master Signature status by the Outdoor Painters Society (OPS). Beverly Boren and Ted Clemens were recently elected by ballot vote of the entire Signature membership body to receive this honor.

    To qualify for this special recognition, all applicants must meet the following requirements to be considered: 1) Be a Signature member of OPS for the last five years. 2) Juried into the last three Plein Air Southwest Salons. 3) Received an award in three of the annual Salons.

    The Outdoor Painters Society has grown significantly over the years and has become an important part of the plein air community. It’s members come from many parts of the country and include some of the top names in the world of plein air painters. It is a credit to current president, Tina Bohlman (Master Signature member), and to all the former and present board members.

    I thought you’d be interested in learning more about these wonderful artists that have achieved this well-deserved recognition. (Click images to enlarge).

    Beverly Boren

    Beverly Boren


    “I am truly honored to have received the distinction of Master Signature.  The relationships that have been formed with fellow artists in OPS have been a big part in my growth as a professional artist.  This achievement inspires me to continue pursuing excellence in my work and to express my love of painting in an ever evolving self expression.”


    Beverly Boren - "Blue and Orange Harmony" - 12" x 12" - Oil

    Beverly Boren – “Blue and Orange Harmony” – 12″ x 12″ – Oil



    Ted Clemens

    Ted Clemens


     “I fool myself a lot in my work. But there must be something worthwhile in it to even be eligible for the recognition.”


    Ted Clemens - "Let Sleeping Dog Lie" - 8" x 10" - Oil

    Ted Clemens – “Let Sleeping Dog Lie” – 8″ x 10″ – Oil



    Share with us your art background leading up to where you are today.   

    Boren:  I’ve always been artistically inclined, always loved to draw.  I didn’t realize I would become a fine artist until after many years of other pursuits.  I worked as a flight attendant, thinking “Wouldn’t it be fun to travel the world”?  I eventually left that career move to raise my beautiful family.  Other odd jobs followed and I came to the realization that I really hated sitting in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day.  I walked out one day with the idea that I wanted to paint.  Once I picked up a brush – I never looked back.

    Clemens:   After art school, most of my career has been in advertising. That, with family responsibilities, kept me busy enough until the kids grew up. I began plein air work about a dozen years ago, and started entering competitions. I had to relearn everything—use of color, style, simplicity, efficiency—until I figured things out and nailed down how I wanted to do all this. The shows put my own work in perspective, and being around other painters, I’d pick up valuable tips here and there.

    Ted Clemens - "Wylie Barn" - 8" x 16" - Oil

    Ted Clemens – “Wylie Barn” – 8″ x 16″ – Oil

    Beverly Boren - "Winter's Blanket" - 11" x 14" - Watercolor

    Beverly Boren – “Winter’s Blanket” – 11″ x 14″ – Watercolor


    What in your opinion are the most important contributions you have made to the art world?  

    Boren:  Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to study and learn from some of the best artists in the country.  I am grateful to all of them for planting the seed.  Painting and teaching is my way of connecting with the world and sharing those experiences, hopefully inspiring others along the way.

    Clemens:  Can’t say I know of any; that will have to be determined by others.


    How much of your work is done en plein air and why is it so important to you?  

    Boren:  I’d say that about 20-30% of my work is plein air.  When I paint on location I need to paint quickly and decisively.  There isn’t time to get caught up in details.  It’s important that I capture the essence of a subject quickly and to simplify the subject into basic shapes, not a detailed rendering of what’s out there.

    Clemens:  Plein air has been fundamental to my development—half my work was outdoors at first. Now studio work has taken more time, but to focus my attention I have to go outside. Being under the stopwatch of sunlight and the changes of weather force a sharpening of skills, and being on the spot engages me in the subject. I can look broadly or closely to understand more and more.

    Beverly Boren - "Durango Aspens" - 12" x 12" - Oil

    Beverly Boren – “Durango Aspens” – 12″ x 12″ – Oil

    Ted Clemens - "The Doctor's House" - 10" x 20" - Oil

    Ted Clemens – “The Doctor’s House” – 10″ x 20″ – Oil


    When choosing a subject, what are you looking for?  

    Boren:  I paint a variety of subject matter and my inspiration to paint is often the same regardless of subject matter – patterns of light and shadow, interesting shapes and a pleasing color harmony.  I love to paint a variety of subject matter as well as working in various mediums .  My paintings are created with things that capture my eye whether it’s a landscape, still life, or capturing a person’s personality.

    Clemens:  I’m prejudiced toward copying what I see, but I’ve learned subject is less important than composition and design. However, color, value, and the challenge of capturing something new are also important considerations.

    Ted Clemens - "Edge of the Woods" - 8" x 16" - Oil

    Ted Clemens – “Edge of the Woods” – 8″ x 16″ – Oil


    Please explain your plein air painting process.  

    Boren:  SIMPLICATION!  After choosing a subject, I compose my scene with a simple drawing using a small brush and thin paint.  Next, I block in the general masses of values within the big shapes.  Once I establish the big shapes, I refine and add necessary detail.  I work from general to specific, dark to light, thin to thick.

    Clemens:   Guerrilla warfare. I have to get as much as possible into my mind before I pick up the paint brush. What can I do in the time I have? What do I want to accomplish—lighting, texture, subject? I look for design and balance of shapes and values, and start simply, focusing my attention on essential areas that ground the composition.

    Beverly Boren - "Winter's Coat" - 10" x 10" - Oil

    Beverly Boren – “Winter’s Coat” – 10″ x 10″ – Oil


    What do you hope to communicate through your work?  

    Boren:  Trying to describe or explain my efforts at painting or drawing seems like a futile effort.  After all, I want my work tp express itself without the necessity of words.  My best hope is that my work will stand simply on it’s own, and find a connection with viewers where words fail.

    Clemens:  Time and place mostly. One thing that caught my attention early on was a passage in the Bible—Romans 1:20. I wanted to know what it could mean to get past the obvious to see the invisible attributes of the One who made what I see. I’m a critical type and am not satisfied to just glory in mountains, sunsets and nature. What could God possibly be saying about Himself? Examining what I see, taking things apart in my mind, and the challenges of reworking them in paint, have revealed far more than I ever thought.


    Thanks Beverly and Ted for your willingness to be interviewed for this blog. I hope others will join me in congratulating you for this well deserved honor.

    To view more of Boren and Clemens’ work, click links below.





  • December 19, 2017 12:54 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    What is Art?

    What is art? That’s a question I don’t hear debated much anymore, maybe because that’s a topic for the smoke-filled rooms of intellectuals…not us working professionals. However, I do find the question stimulating and often ask it of artists interviewed for this blog. It’s stimulating because in the modern and post-modern era, art has a considerably broader meaning than it did, say 200 years ago. Now just about anything is given the “art” moniker, back then, not so much.

    I will, at some point, share with you some of more insightful responses to the question, made by contemporary artists.


    Frank J. Reilly, A.N.A


    But for now, let’s focus on comments made by Frank J.Reilly, A.N.A (1906-1967). Most of you are probably familiar with that name. Mr. Reilly was an American painter, illustrator, muralist, and teacher.

    He was an instructor at the Art Students League in New York for 28 years. He was known to always wear a suit and tie while teaching and his classes were always jammed to the doors; it is said that, in all, he had more students than any art teacher in history. During his years of training, his drawing instructor was George Bridgeman, and his painting instructor was Frank Vincent Dumond. These men were trained by greats of the French Academy.

    Notice how the students are dressed.

    Notice how the students are dressed.

    Check out those high-heals.

    Check out those high-heals.


    Reilly also served as apprentice to famed illustrator Dean Cornwell, his friend and neighbor. Reilly’s most noted for “developing a means of organizing the palette, based partially on the work of 19th century colorist Albert Munsell. Following Munsell’s view of separating color into hue, value, and chroma, Reilly organized the figure painting palette in this manner, creating nine values of neutral gray as a control, with corresponding values of red, orange, and flesh tone.

    Reilly's figure-painting palette.

    Reilly’s figure-painting palette.


    His training, credentials, and accomplishments are amazing; therefore, considering the time in which he lived, I think his comments about art are significant.





    “Art must contain a human experience and through the personality of an artist, skillfully communicate this experience in an understandable language to the greatest number of thinking people for the longest length of time.”





    “Art is man’s responsibility to man. Since it is the recording of human experiences, man must then first experience before he can share with others. Its subject matter comes from man’s observation and imagination. Its moods and feelings come from man’s emotions. It is creative. It inspires and exalts. It preserves nature and Godly creations. Art is for the many, not the few. Art is the unity of both inner and visual beauty.”



    “Art being a creative and emotional experience, expresses mood and feeling, but always through the eyes of a particular artist. It operates through a personality, which is a personal kind of thinking developed by skilled practice. It is related to the love, urge, and sustained interest of the artist to express himself and his times. It is good taste and selectiveness acquired through a background, an education and an environment, with insight to the heritage of the past and a plan for the future. It is the result of a skilled artist with something to say.”



    “Art is human ingenuity, backed by skill of execution, acquired through knowledge, related thinking, and constant practice. Art’s techniques come from the execution of man’s skill and the development of craft. It includes the mastery of a medium of expression.

    “Art while personally creative, and inventively skillful, must always be understandable. To be universally understood, it must be a language of visual expression. Its modes, manners and functions may change, but its natural visual factors never change, and its impact is strengthened by a thorough understanding of these factors. Art’s visual factors are: position, line, pattern, value and color. These factors when used in various manners can produce form, imagery, design and composition. Art is a branch of learning that appeals to the sensitive minds of men, and learning is knowledge gained by study.”



    “Art like all human endeavor is what is right for the greatest number of people. If it pleases only one, it is an individual thing. When it appeals to many, it by its nature is a greater force.

    “Art should be judged by its impact on sensitive thinking people. It has something for everyone, but as with all human endeavor, the more versed we are in its powers the more it has to offer. Art in its complete form builds confidence and commands the respect of thinking people.

    “Art, true art, is not a passing whim. It is definitely related to public acceptance over a long period of time. ‘Art is long, life is short,’ to borrow a phrase.”



    “Art is sincerity, faith in an ideal, discipline, excellence of execution, dignity of approach, a sense of good taste, and the wisdom to combine all art is respect for the past, because you are the future.

    “Art is a livelihood to those whose efforts are functional. It is a haven of satisfaction, pleasure and relaxation to those who devote only part of their lives to it. Art (can be) a religion to those who devote their entire lives to it. Art, be it a religion, livelihood or haven, contributes at all times to our happiness, our progress and our culture.”


    **Wikipedia and an old American Artist magazine were sources for this blog post.

  • November 26, 2017 8:42 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Charles Sprague Pearce

    Posted on November 26, 2017

    In the last quarter of the nineteenth-century, a very large number of American artists traveled to Paris to absorb its beauty, take advantage of the extensive artistic education available and all the opportunities that education offered. Most returned home after their studies but a few remained  declaring Paris their home. Charles Sprague Pearce (1851-1914) was one of those that remained.  (Click images to enlarge)


    Charles Sprague Pearce


    He lived only 63 years and for most of those years respiratory disease trouble him. He was 21 when he first arrived in Paris and entered the atelier of Leon Bonnat. By this time (1873), many artists in Paris were in hardcore rejection mode of the rigid program of the Ecole-des-Beaux-Arts.

    Leon Bonnat (1833-1922) - "An Arab Removing a Thorn From His Foot" - Oil

    Leon Bonnat (1833-1922) – “An Arab Removing a Thorn From His Foot” – Oil


    Bonnat’s atelier was like so many independent studios that sprang up during that time. A group of students would come together and share the expense of studio accommodations and model costs. They would then invite a revered Salon master to head the studio. The position was honorary. The master would devote several hours per week critiquing students work. He wasn’t paid for his time but increased recognition was his reward when one of his students attained success. Pearce would become Bonnat’s most successful, and closest, American pupil. It’s easy to see Bonnat’s strong influence on Pearce’s work, as seen below.

    "Woman in White Dress and Straw Hat" - 13" x 10" - Oil (1880)

    “Woman in White Dress and Straw Hat” – 13″ x 10″ – Oil  (1880)

    "Arab Jeweler" - 46" x 35" - Oil (1882)

    “Arab Jeweler” – 46″ x 35″ – Oil  (1882)


    Pearce, from his youth, wanted to be a painter of dramatic Biblical subjects. Bonnat already had established a strong reputation in that area, so it was a natural fit.

    In the hierarchy of acceptable painting subjects, History Painting (historical, religious, and mythological subjects), were the most respected…and “of all the Salon subjects, they were the standard by which the French beaux-arts students were measured for the prestigious Prix de Rome.”

    "Lamentations Over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt" - 38" x 51" - Oil (1877)

    “Lamentations Over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt” – 38″ x 51″ – Oil  (1877)


    Upholding the historic Biblical account through art held an important place at the time because “late-nineteenth-century intellectuals consistently attempted to apply rational and technical analysis to spiritual concerns. The scientific investigations of men such as Charles Darwin undermined religious beliefs, shaking the very foundations of faith by questioning the story of creation recounted in the Book of Genesis. The truths discovered by archeology provided reassurance from the growing spiritual skepticism. Their proof of ancient cultures offered a verifiable testament to Biblical events, advancing the potential to reconcile science and religion.”

    The year Pearce arrived in Paris (1873) was the year Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Cezanne, Morisot, and Degas founded the “Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers,”  to exhibit artworks independently of the Salon. Each participant was required to give up any future participation in the Salon.

    There was a lot going on in the world of art at this time. Just as Impressionism was a reaction to Romanticism and History painting, other art movements such as Realism and Naturalism, were as well.

    "The Return of the Flock" - 48" x 63" - Oil (1888)

    “The Return of the Flock” – 48″ x 63″ – Oil  (1888)

    "Gleaner's Rest" - 30" x 24" - Oil (1885-90)

    “Gleaner’s Rest” – 30″ x 24″ – Oil  (1885-90)

    "The Sheepfold" - 89" x 128" - Oil (1893)

    “The Sheepfold” – 89″ x 128″ – Oil  (1893)


    The goal of all these “ism’s” was to create honest paintings…not the idealizations that had become so common. Artists of these new movements sought to depict “real life”…common laborers, ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary surroundings.

    With his painting “Water Carrier”, Pearce moved away from the somber, limited palette of Bonnat, and became more closely identified with the Naturalists.

    "Water Carrier" - 56" x 44" - Oil (1883)

    “Water Carrier” – 56″ x 44″ – Oil  (1883)


    The Naturalists were considered a sub-movement of Realism, but without the political and social issues commentary.

    The sole aim of the Naturalists was to “reproduce nature by carrying it to its maximum power and intensity.” The subject matter was similar to that of the Impressionists, but the style required a much higher degree of finish, tighter, more traditional brushwork, and highly refined drawing. It seems the Naturalists were still applying much of what was taught in the Ecole-des-Beaux-Arts, but they were more open to modern scientific discoveries, their paintings were more true to nature, and the subject matter was distinctly different. You may also notice that brilliant sunlight is mostly absent from their landscapes.

    "Women in the Fields" - 31" x 26" - Oil

    “Women in the Fields” – 31″ x 26″ – Oil

    "Heartbreak" - 61" x 47" - Oil (1885)

    “Heartbreak” – 61″ x 47″ – Oil  (1885)

    "Across the Fields" - 44" x 32" - Oil (1884)

    “Across the Fields” – 44″ x 32″ – Oil  (1884)


    I am a great fan of the Naturalist movement. Unfortunately it was short-lived, lasting only about 20 years, only to be replaced by the next new thing.

    "Evening" - 41" x 69" - Oil (1885)

    “Evening” – 41″ x 69″ – Oil  (1885)


    My resource for this article was obtained from Google, but primarily from A Rare Elegance, The Paintings of Charles Sprague Pearce by Mary Lubin. 

  • November 07, 2017 11:09 AM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Adam and Andrea Clague interview

    Posted on November 5, 2017

    Adam and Andrea Clague met while attending art school at Pensacola Christian College. Both graduated with master degrees, and after dating for a year and a half, they married and are celebrating their fifth anniversary. They live near Kansas City, Missouri.

    Although their styles are somewhat similar and they are often drawn to the same types of subjects, their personalities are different, and that difference comes through in their compositions and paint application. “Even when standing next to each other painting the same scene, it’s always surprising and fun to see how the other person chose to interpret it! We have tried not to force our artistic ‘voices,’ but rather have let them develop naturally as we seek to interpret our subjects faithfully.”

    They feel blessed to have received excellent traditional art training in college and were fortunate to gain gallery representation soon after graduating. “We also entered as many competitions as we could. Progress was slow and gradual. It was a big step of faith for us to pursue art full-time and we are grateful to God for His provision, and allowing us to continue on this adventure together!”  Continuing that adventure, Adam has developed an online video course Learn to Paint Dynamic Portraits & Figures in Oil. “I’m excited to share the most powerful and essential elements of painting people that I’ve learned as a career painter and instructor. The course is packed with hours of video demos and numerous written lessons. Enrollment for the course will open in 2018, but you can start the course today for free!” For more info, please visit ClagueFineArt.com.

    I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Adam and Andrea a couple of years ago at the Oil Painters of America National Show, in Dallas. I am so pleased to be able to bring you this interview with two very fine people…and wonderfully talented artists.  (Click images to enlarge)

    Adam and Andrea Clague


    How did you begin your fine art careers; what difficulties did you encounter, and how were they overcome?   In the beginning, we didn’t realize the importance of diversification. We were selling some paintings and entering competitions, but it wasn’t long before we realized we needed to diversify further, and Adam began teaching workshops. Now we have multiple possibilities of revenue if one stream dries up for a spell.

    What’s a typical workday look like?   Adam: I typically work an 8-hour day, 9am–5pm, but if deadlines are approaching, I’ll work more. My most productive time to accomplish creative work is in the morning, so I try to start the day with work that requires creative energy like painting. Afternoons are spent on less creative ventures like writing emails. I usually spend more time writing emails and less time painting than I’d like!

    Andrea Clague - "Spice Line" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    Andrea Clague – “Spice Line” – 16″ x 20″ – Oil


    Andrea: My schedule is usually more fluid than Adam’s. Instead of following a set routine, I divide my time according to what requires my attention. I paint in focussed segments of time. In between each segment, I’ll attend to chores, etc., before returning to my painting with a fresh perspective.

    The artist’s life tends to be a solitary one, is that true for you, and if so, what measures have you taken to maintain that?   Because we’re pursuing art together, our life is probably less solitary than many other artists. We enjoy the camaraderie of painting with other artists and make a point to attend group painting sessions and go on painting trips with friends.

    Do your painting philosophies differ, if so, in what way?   The types of things that inspire us to paint are sometimes different, but our philosophy is the same—we both work from life as much as possible and strive to faithfully capture a first-hand account of our subject.

    How do you handle critiques; do you wait until asked or do you express your opinions regardless; how do you resolve any differences?   We always ask before offering advice, and we both trust the other’s opinion and artistic choices. It’s great to have constant access to a fresh eye and a second opinion about our work!

    How do you handle household chores and finances; do you have distinct and separate roles; are your incomes combined or kept separate?   We share the chores, and Adam keeps track of the finances. We combine our incomes to make our tax preparation easier.

    How do you promote your work; is that handled individually or corporately?   We promote our work by entering national shows and competitions, by staying active on Facebook and Instagram, and by maintaining two bi-weekly email newsletters—“Our Latest Artwork and Adventures” written by Andrea and “Art Lessons” written by Adam. On each platform, we promote our work together.

    Why have you chosen not to display prices on your websites?   In the past, we decided not to display prices on our websites because it seemed to be the norm in the fine art world. However, on our new website launching next year at ClagueFineArt.com, we intend to display our prices to make it more convenient for our collectors.

    Andrea Orr Clague

    Andrea Clague


    “I am thankful for the ability to paint and gratefully count it as a gift from my heavenly Father. I aspire to glorify God and draw others to see His goodness and the wonder of His love.”


    In 2010, Andrea was selected for Southwest Art magazine’s annual “21 under 31″ feature; in addition her art was chosen for the cover. In 2012, she was awarded Grand Prize at the Scottsdale Salon, held at Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ.

    As you see it, what value does art have to society…and to you personally?   Art has the power to open our eyes and remind us of the glorious beauty in our world—something that is easy to forget these days. Painting the beauty I see helps me appreciate each moment and become more aware of its significance. In capturing these moments, I hope others will be reminded to pause and reflect on the beauty that exists even in the “ordinary.”

    Andrea Clague - "Aglow" - 24" x 20" - Oil

    Andrea Clague – “Aglow” – 24″ x 20″ – Oil


    You primarily paint still life and figurative subjects, what do you hope to communicate through each?   Whether I’m painting a still life, figure, or plein air, my goal is always to capture what I see authentically and honestly, while drawing the viewer’s attention to the beauty I saw in the subject.

    What is the most difficult part of painting for you?   The most difficult part of painting for me is starting. I have a hard time choosing what to paint and then gathering the motivation and momentum to begin.

    Andrea Clague - "Brightening Days" - 28" x 36" - Oil

    Andrea Clague – “Brightening Days” – 28″ x 36″ – Oil

    Andrea Clague - "Adam's Brushes" - 8" x 5" - Oil

    Andrea Clague – “Adam’s Brushes” – 8″ x 5″ – Oil


    Briefly explain your painting process.   After choosing an inspiring subject, I compose my scene using a value study, simple drawing and/or viewfinder. Then I begin with a rough drawing on my canvas using a small brush and thin paint (I’ll create a more detailed drawing for more complicated studio pieces). Next, I block in general masses of value. Once I establish my subject’s basic forms, I refine and add necessary details, such as temperature nuances, brushwork, and variety in paint texture.

    You just completed a 30-day Strada Easel Challenge; please explain what that is, why you did it, and how it has benefited you?   Strada Easel issues month-long daily painting challenges twice a year to encourage artistic development. I participated in their September 30-Day Challenge. My goal was to complete a new painting from life each day of the month.

    I was grateful for the intense focus and goal-oriented work the challenge provided, as well as the freedom to experiment more than I normally would. I had a great response to my work, made several sales, and learned a lot!

    You can view all 30 of my paintings from the challenge at our blog HERE.

    Andrea Clague - "Morning Has Broken" - 30" x 24" - Oil

    Andrea Clague – “Morning Has Broken” – 30″ x 24″ – Oil


    Please describe the art training you received.   We both earned bachelor and master degrees from Pensacola Christian College. In the first year of the undergraduate Commercial Art Program, we focused on drawing and value. We were required to create full-value, highly realistic drawings from life and from photography in a variety of monochromatic dry media. In our second year, we were introduced to oils and were taught a direct manner of painting. This was followed by illustration and graphic design in year three. Our favorite class was live portrait painting that we elected to take multiple times. Our fourth year was spent creating a portfolio and gallery display of our work.

    In the three-year Master of Fine Arts program, we were allowed to focus on the medium and subject of our choosing. Adam focused on portraiture, while I divided my time between figurative and still life. We also learned more advanced concepts of lighting and composition. We count it a privilege to have studied under artist-in-residence, Brian Jekel.

    Andrea Clague - "In Gratitude" - 9" x 12" - Oil

    Andrea Clague – “In Gratitude” – 9″ x 12″ – Oil


    What are your strongest and weakest character traits?   I am too easily frustrated and discouraged by my work. At the same time, I’m not overly attached to it. For this reason, I don’t hesitate to wipe off an area of a painting that needs to be re-done! However, Adam sometimes has to convince me my painting is decent, so I don’t wipe off the whole thing!

    What are your artistic goals?   To be a better artist and to do my best with the time given to me. To gain a clearer understanding of what draws me to a subject and to communicate that more effectively. To create out of a heart of gratitude in service to others.


    Adam Clague

    Adam Clague


     ”My passion is to faithfully capture the beauty of God’s creation in paint. I paint in an impressionistic manner and work from life as much as possible in order to produce the most life-like results.”


    Adam is a Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America (OPA) and a director for the Missouri Valley Impressionist Society. In 2012, he was included in Southwest Art magazine’s annual “21 under 31″ feature. He’s received many national awards including: Best of Show at the 2016 American Impressionist Society National Exhibition; Second Honor Award at the 2014 Portrait Society of America International Competition, and the Portraiture Award of Excellence at the 2013 OPA National Exhibition.

    You paint a variety of subjects: still life, figurative, portrait, and landscape; what is the attraction of each?   The inspiration to paint is often the same regardless of the subject matter—a dynamic pattern of light and shadow, an interesting grouping of shapes, or a pleasing color harmony. Figures and portraits are my favorite subjects because I find they lend themselves especially well to pictorial storytelling.

    Adam Clague - "Babysitters" - 18" x 24" - Oil

    Adam Clague – “Babysitters” – 18″ x 24″ – Oil

    Adam Clague - "Book Club" - 32" x 23" - Oil

    Adam Clague – “Book Club” – 32″ x 23″ – Oil


    You work primarily from life, what process do you go through when selecting and posing models?   My figurative paintings usually start out as a basic concept. Once I have an idea, I  think about who I know that would make a good model for the scene. Most of the time, I employ amateur models—friends and family. I’m drawn to poses with dynamic lines, which I incorporate into my compositions.

    Adam Clague - "More Whipped Cream" - 24" x 14" - Oil

    Adam Clague – “More Whipped Cream” – 24″ x 14″ – Oil


    What’s the most important thing you want to accomplish/communicate when painting the figure?   The most important thing I want to communicate when painting a figure (or any subject) is the aspect of the subject I’m most excited to paint. Once I’ve identified this element, it becomes the primary message I wish to communicate through that particular painting.

    Adam Clague - "Knitter's Gift" - 24" x 24" - Oil

    Adam Clague – “Knitter’s Gift” – 24″ x 24″ – Oil


    Briefly explain your painting process.   My paintings start 1 of 2 ways. The first way is with a basic concept. The second (more common) way is when I remember to keep my eyes open for beauty and stumble across an inspiring subject. Once I have my subject, I determine what I want to say about it. Once I have this message clearly in mind, I create one or more small studies to establish my composition. These studies may be thumbnail sketches, value studies made with markers, digital paintings, oil paintings from life, or all of the above! Usually, the larger and more complex the painting, the more studies I create. This helps me ensure my composition works well before I spend the time painting the final piece. Working from life is always an important part of my process. I often work from photos, but I always start out painting my subject from life, even if it’s just a quick study. This helps me achieve the most life-like results.

    Adam Clague - "In Her Eyes" - 16" x 16" - Oil

    Adam Clague – “In Her Eyes” – 16″ x 16″ – Oil


    When setting up a still life, how do you know when it’s a great arrangement?   I’m satisfied with a still life setup when my focal point is evident and the other elements don’t draw too much attention away from it.

    How do you achieve color harmony in your work?   Rather than inventing a color harmony, I usually strive to faithfully paint the color harmony that is naturally produced by the light on my subject.

    How have you overcome one’s natural resistance to purchase figurative work, especially portraits, since the subject is unknown to the prospective collector?   I’m often pleasantly surprised that when I faithfully capture the beauty that inspires me, people seem to appreciate it regardless of the subject matter.


    Thanks Adam and Andrea for a wonderful interview…and for all the beauty you bring to the world.

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