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.

  • November 03, 2017 9:46 AM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Outdoor painting

    Posted on October 29, 2017

    I am fortunate to have been given, several years ago, some 50-70 year-old American Artist magazines. Browsing through one of them recently, I came across an article about direct painting…meaning, paintings created directly from life or nature. In light of the current fascination with, and gushing acceptance of all things done en plein air, the writer of the article brings a little sanity to the topic. I think you’ll find it helpful.  All images shown in this article were done en plein air. (Click images to enlarge)

    John Pototschnik - "Glory Days Have Passed You By" - 10" x 20" - Oil

    John Pototschnik – “Glory Days Have Passed You By” – 10″ x 20″ – Oil


    “Direct painting, when practiced by an expert, gives wonderful results; it also imposes stringent rules upon those who practice it. An error of judgement may, probably will, ruin the whole work. For this reason much knowledge must back up the brush. What must this knowledge comprise?

    1 - The power of visualization must be developed in order that the artist may see, on the canvas, what effect he is aiming for.

    2 – Ideas of color must be worked out before ever touching brush to canvas.

    3 – The ability to draw, not only with the pencil  but also with the brush, is mandatory.

    4 – The ability to decide the importance of every object painted, in order to put it down in proper relationship to the whole, is a must.

    5 – Must have a clear understanding and knowledge of masses, of tone, and of design.

    “Maybe this long list of requirements will bring disappointment to many; it should not, for every true artist desires to base his work on knowledge. He can only paint what he knows. His development, therefore, depends upon the amount of knowledge he imbibes. That knowledge must be based upon close study of the moods of nature. Never, until nature is thoroughly understood, will an artist paint direct works successfully.”

    Louis Escobedo - "Zion" - 8" x 8" - Oil

    Louis Escobedo – “Zion” – 8″ x 8″ – Oil

    Eric Jacobsen - "Sunlit Trees" - 18" x 22" - Oil

    Eric Jacobsen – “Sunlit Trees” – 18″ x 22″ – Oil


    “Nature shows her precious moods for short periods, and only the artist who understands those moods can seize upon them and put them down in paint, with certainty. That glorious period, for example, when the world is flooded with gold, just before the sun begins to set, must be understood to be painted; the artist must have observed this effect often before ever he can paint it in the time nature provides. The mind must be stored with those observations so that, when a scene presents itself opportunely under such conditions, he can set to work, backed up with the information provided by earlier study.

    “Knowing the characteristics of each mood of nature enables him to apply them to any scene. If he puts down those characteristics, he has seized the mood, however roughly objects are drawn.”

    Suzie Baker - "Easton Log Built Boat" - 10" x 30" - Oil

    Suzie Baker – “Easton Log Built Boat” – 10″ x 30″ – Oil


    “The beauty of the subject relies not upon detailed delineation of the objects in the scene, but on the effect of a certain light upon them; hence, direct work must seize upon the object, arrangement, and effects of light, but mainly upon the last two. Nature will not allow the artist sufficient time to draw everything perfectly; indeed, if it did, detail would be so intricate that it would surely kill the fresh, pure effect the artist desires to incorporate in his work.”


    “The “bloom” of color put down in one stroke and left, is something well worth striving for. Few can do it well. Success in this means certain mastery not only of brush and color, but of knowledge.”

    Kathleen Dunphy - "A Force of Nature" - 16" x 20" - Oil

    Kathleen Dunphy – “A Force of Nature” – 16″ x 20″ – Oil

    Roos Schuring - "Seascape" - 9.6" x 11.8" - Oil

    Roos Schuring – “Seascape” – 9.6″ x 11.8″ – Oil

    Dave Santillanes - "Last Light at Kapalua Bay" - 9" x 12" - Oil

    Dave Santillanes – “Last Light at Kapalua Bay” – 9″ x 12″ – Oil


    I have great admiration for the work of the artists represented here; they each possess the knowledge required to do exceptional work, and because of that, have attained the freedom to express their unique vision.

    Jennifer McChristian - "Sizzling Summer" - 9" x 7" - Gouache

    Jennifer McChristian – “Sizzling Summer” – 7″ x 9″ – Gouache


    How does one become an accomplished landscape painter without direct study of nature? The simple answer…you don’t. Painting and sketching directly from nature, and spending time just observing, are probably the most important habits of the landscape painter.

    Fran Ellisor - "Independence Bound" - 14" x 18" - Oil

    Fran Ellisor – “Independence Bound” – 14″ x 18″ – Oil

    George Van Hook - "Elysium" - 30" x 40" - Oil

    George Van Hook – “Elysium” – 30″ x 40″ – Oil


    Here are additional benefits of creating paintings or studies when working directly from nature:

    1)  They’re a perpetual record of where you’ve been, what you’ve directly observed, and what can always be referenced when needed. They also help recall the moment it was painted and all the circumstances involved.

    2)  Direct observation becomes more deeply ingrained and remembered.

    3)  They create a deeper learning experience because more time is spent observing and attempting to faithfully represent the subject.

    4)  Compared to working from photos, more senses are involved; not only sight, but also sound, smell, and touch. Even with improved photo technology, the eyes still are able to discern subtleties that the camera cannot.

    5)  They provide a direct interaction with the subject; it’s like speaking to someone face-to-face versus reading something someone else wrote about them.

    The next step is yours…assemble your painting equipment, head outside, set up, and get after it. Your efforts, over time, will be well rewarded.


    Thanks to each of the artists that allowed me to use images of their work. Here are links to their websites:

    Suzie Baker

    Kathleen Dunphy

    Fran Ellisor

    Louis Escobedo

    George Van Hook

    Eric Jacobsen

    Jennifer McChristian

    Dave Santillanes

    Roos Schuring

  • October 15, 2017 3:33 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is an interview of 4 very well know women artists by John Pototschnick - insightful and interesting! 

    I doubt there are too many of you that are unaware of paintings by Anna Rose Bain, Anne Blair Brown, Ann Larsen, and Annie Kraft Walker. All are from different parts of the country, are multiple winners of many significant awards, and are profoundly dedicated to their chosen profession. Each are unique…reflected in an undeniable honesty that they bring to each subject undertaken. The variety of styles is invigorating, reflecting four distinct personalities and painting philosophies.

    You wouldn’t know it, but Texas artist, Annie Walker, began by painting in a primitive folk art style…even having a piece in the permanent collection of the White House. Tiring of that, in 2000, she decided to “seriously pursue art.” You can see the incredible result. Her work is highly refined, tasteful, sensitive, beautifully composed and drawn…simply elegant.

    While Walker primarily paints the classic still life, Colorado artist, Anna Rose Bain, prefers figurative works. Her style employs a direct painting method, while drawing from classical roots. She gains inspiration for her work from the joys and struggles in her life…seeking to make the world a better place through her art. I wonder if that goal was not nurtured during her years at Hillsdale College, a school that, according to its mission statement, “considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.” Oh, by the way, Bain was the first student in the school’s 173-year history to have a solo senior show.

    In fairness to Tennessee artist, Anne Blair Brown, although she does a considerable amount of plein air painting, I asked her to just provide images of her fantastically beautiful interior paintings. Her paintings are filled with light, and she has the unique ability to say just enough, nothing more. Her desire is to express more than reality. Her work is loose, captivating, and expressive, with minimal detail. She adheres to John Carlson’s quote: “Too much detail in a painting is a disappointment to the creative soul.”

    Finally, there’s New York state artist, Ann Larsen. I’ve been a fan of her work for some time, as she is a member of the Outdoor Painters Society and a consistent winner in its Plein Air Southwest Salon. Her work is colorful, bold, and well composed. She tries to simplify her compositions as much as possible in order to achieve the strongest possible paintings. She, like Brown, is not interested in capturing detail, nor making a copy of what’s before her.

    I’m so pleased to be able to bring you this interview with four very talented artists. (Click images to enlarge)


    Ann Larsen -r

    Ann Larsen

    “I have never felt I was anything else but an artist.  I started taking art lessons when I was 6 years old and I always drew and did creative things from a very early age.   I just think it was something reinforced by my parents who valued the arts. “ 


    ARB - r

     Anna Rose Bain

      “I consider art to be such an absolute vocation that I would be miserable doing anything else. Like many others, I was blessed with some natural talent, but more importantly, I have determination and willpower to keep going with it, because I love it so much.”


    akw - r

     Annie Kraft Walker

    ​”I’m an artist for two​ ​reasons:​ ​nature​ ​and​ ​nurture.​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​the​ ​desire to​ ​create​ ​is​ ​inherent​ ​in​ ​my​ ​DNA, and,​ ​my​ ​mother​ ​was​ ​an​ ​extremely​ ​talented, creative​ ​person.​ ​ ​Growing​ ​up​ ​observing​ ​her​ ​joy​ ​in​ ​making​ ​things​ ​beautiful​ ​kindled the​ ​spark​ ​to​ ​create.”


    Abb Headshot B&W - r

     Anne Blair Brown

    “I cannot stop painting pictures whether on canvas or in my head. The ‘in my head’ part can be tricky…often I am driving and assessing my surroundings in terms of design and color. So far I have not landed in any ditches…”



    What do you hope to communicate through your work? 

    Brown: I paint many subjects but find that interiors best convey my desired message. I try to communicate a sense of comfort and belonging with a splash of mystery.

    Walker: ​A​ ​small​ ​reflection​ ​of the​ ​beauty​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​in​ ​itself​ ​a​ ​reflection​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Creator.

    Bain: I paint out of joy. My goal is to make the canvas a beautiful and exciting visual experience from edge to edge.  I want my viewers to be as engaged with my painting as I was when I created it, and to relate to the subject matter in a way that allows them to find their own meaning in it.

    Larsen:  I would hope that when someone views my work they feel an emotional connection, not just to the subject, but to the way I paint, the brushwork, color and composition.  Who can deny the emotions we feel looking at the brushwork of Sargent or the compositions of Edgar Payne?

    Anne Blair Brown - "Favorite Corner" - 16" x 16" - Oil

    Anne Blair Brown – “Favorite Corner” – 16″ x 16″ – Oil

    Annie Kraft Walker - "Mo and Spidey" - 12" x 24" - Oil

    Annie Kraft Walker – “Mo and Spidey” – 12″ x 24″ – Oil

    Anna Rose Bain - "A World of Possibilities" - 20" x 14" - Oil

    Anna Rose Bain – “A World of Possibilities” – 20″ x 14″ – Oil

    Ann Larsen - "Foggy Morning" - 8" x 10" - Oil

    Ann Larsen – “Foggy Morning” – 8″ x 10″ – Oil



     Each of you are distinctly different; how did you develop your unique vision and focus?

    Walker: ​It​ ​just​ ​happened.​ ​It​ ​comes​ ​out​ ​of​ ​my​ ​heart​ ​and​ ​mind.​ ​The​ ​things​ ​that are​ ​important​ ​or​ ​beautiful​ ​in​ ​my​ ​eyes,​ ​are​ ​the​ ​things​ ​I’m​ ​drawn​ ​to​ ​represent.​ ​ ​A common​ ​thread​ ​in​ ​my​ ​still​ ​life​ ​work​ ​is​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​antiques,​ ​simply​ ​because​ ​that’s what​ ​is​ ​available​ ​in​ ​my​ ​house​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with.

    Bain: I struggled for years to find my voice. Everything changed when I had my daughter. I briefly considered devoting myself to being a full-time mom, but instead of quitting painting, I leaned in harder and used my art to convey all the changes that were happening in my life. I documented my daughter’s first years through art, and have found that the rest of my work is infinitely better for it. To be clear: I do not just paint children and maternity portraits! I paint many things, but with a heightened sense of empathy and passion that wasn’t there before kids.

    Larsen: After college, I sought out the professional artists that I felt I could learn the most from.  I am always pushing to simply and understand the structure behind paintings and looked to those artists that I felt best represented that.  A lot of working, thinking and trying different ideas just keeps moving me to define myself.

    Brown: My style arose from the need to move away from “drawing stuff”. Once I learned how to piece together basic shapes in the correct dark/light ratio I could play with color and brushwork in a more freeing manner.

    Anna Rose Bain - "Vintage Tutu" - 50" x 36" - Oil

    Anna Rose Bain – “Vintage Tutu” – 50″ x 36″ – Oil

    Annie Kraft Walker - "White on White" - 24" x 20" - Oil

    Annie Kraft Walker – “White on White” – 24″ x 20″ – Oil



    Briefly explain your painting process. 

    Bain: My process varies depending on the subject matter, but over the years I’ve come to be a huge proponent for direct painting. I love the immediacy and excitement of working wet into wet. Sometimes for larger studio works, I’ll combine alla prima painting with slower, more deliberate passages. I enjoy the juxtaposition of fast and slow brushwork, hard and soft edges, detail and obscurity.

    Larsen: I learned early on to try and work out compositions before jumping into the painting; I do this through drawing and small oil studies.  Often I premix a palette, after which I lay in the big shapes, including the lights and darks…all the while using my reference materials. I continue developing the painting until I have nothing further to say.  However, when painting plein air I try to just paint intuitively, going for spontaneity and a strong statement.

    Brown: I first lay in a monochromatic “wash” in an earth tone, paying close attention to simple shapes and limited values. Once I am satisfied the scene “reads”, I layer color on top of that wash in stages. I build the painting as simply as possible and save finishing touches (highlights, etc.) for the end.

    Walker: I​ ​often​ ​work​ ​out​ ​the​ ​composition​ ​in charcoal,​ ​then​ ​do​ ​an​ ​oil​ ​transfer​ ​to​ ​the​ ​canvas.​ ​My​ ​still​ ​lifes​ ​are​ ​done​ ​from​ ​life,​ ​not photos​ ​(unless​ ​it’s​ ​something​ ​that​ ​won’t​ ​last​ ​a​ ​few​ ​days).​ ​ ​I​ ​paint​ ​indirectly, usually​ ​three​ ​passes​ ​after​ ​the​ ​block​ ​in,​ ​and​ ​finish​ ​with​ ​glazes.



    What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned as an artist?

    Larsen:  Time at the easel, whether studio or plein air, is the only way to exceed.  Also, that failing at times is OK.

    Brown: The most important lesson I’ve learned as an artist is best stated in the following quotation by Bob Dylan: “The artist must never feel that he has arrived. He must always be in a state of becoming.”

    Walker: ​ ​To learn​ ​as​ ​much​ ​as​ ​I​ ​can​ ​(which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​never​ ​ending​ ​process)​ ​from​ ​all​ ​sources available:​ ​workshops,​ ​books,​ ​conferences,​ ​museums…but​ ​then​ ​to​ ​put​ ​on​ ​blinders to​ ​the​ ​noisy​ ​world,​ ​others’​ ​opinions,​ ​and​ ​just​ ​paint​ ​from​ ​my​ ​heart.

    Bain: Early on, an older artist told me that young people could never paint something great because they didn’t have enough life experience. But just because another artist is older and “wiser” doesn’t mean he or she has a more important story to tell. We all see through our own filters and life experiences. I’ve learned that it’s okay to paint each stage of my life, whatever that looks like. I give what I have to give, and I’m excited for the future chapters of my life when I’ll have new things to offer. Being present in every moment means that you will always have something to say.

    Ann Larsen - "Summer Hay" - 11" x 14" - Oil

    Ann Larsen – “Summer Hay” – 11″ x 14″ – Oil

    Anne Blair Brown - "Cottage Kitchen" - 16" x 16" - Oil

    Anne Blair Brown – “Cottage Kitchen” – 16″ x 16″ – Oil



    What key things have you done to build your business?

    Brown: My business revolves more around karma than any one thing one could learn in college. I work hard, I put myself out there, and I remain true to my artistic vision. The rest seems to fall into place.

    Walker: Not​ ​much​ ​and​ ​not enough.​ ​A​ ​real​ ​weak​ ​spot.​ ​I​ ​keep​ ​thinking​ ​that​ ​when​ ​I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​body​ ​of​ ​work​ ​I’m proud​ ​of,​ ​I’ll​ ​get​ ​serious​ ​about​ ​the​ ​business​ ​side.

    Bain: I have had my own website now for over 10 years. It keeps evolving, but a solid website is of utmost importance. I’ve made myself easy to find and contact. I post on Facebook and Instagram nearly every day to promote awareness of my work. Participating in group shows and national competitions, teaching, and volunteering have also helped me increase my credibility and visibility.

    Larsen: Probably the most significant was participating in plein air events.  I was lucky to be in the Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim and the Sedona Plein Air early on.  Also, becoming a member of  highly regarded art organizations.  These things have allowed me to meet so many artists, collectors and gallery owners.  Social media is a tremendous help as well.

    Anna Rose Bain - "Silent Snowfall" - 36" x 30" - Oil

    Anna Rose Bain – “Silent Snowfall” – 36″ x 30″ – Oil

    Ann Larsen - "High Country Melt" - 24" x 30" - Oil

    Ann Larsen – “High Country Melt” – 24″ x 30″ – Oil



    What words of encouragement can you give to those desiring to pursue a professional career in the arts? 

    Walker: ​Regardless​ ​of​ ​how​ ​one’s​ ​art​ ​career​ ​goes,​ ​the act​ ​of​ ​immersion​ ​in​ ​art,​ ​for​ ​the​ ​love,​ ​joy​ ​and​ ​fulfilment​ ​of​ ​creating,​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the most​ ​enjoyable,​ ​frustrating​ ​and​ ​rewarding​ ​experiences.

    Bain: I would say that in the art world, you can’t skate by on raw talent. You have to be willing to put in long hours, handle rejection with resilience, and go back to the studio every day no matter how unmotivated you feel. If you can do that, you will succeed.

    Larsen:  To never give up, believe in yourself and always push to reach beyond what is “safe”.  But, most importantly, study, draw and paint constantly!

    Brown: Mileage! Take the pressure off of yourself to create perfect paintings and draw, draw, draw, and then paint, paint, paint! Repeat!

    Annie Kraft Walker - "In the Potting Shed" - 18" x 24" - Oil

    Annie Kraft Walker – “In the Potting Shed” – 18″ x 24″ – Oil

    Anne Blair Brown - "Sunny Disposition" - 24" x 24" - Oil

    Anne Blair Brown – “Sunny Disposition” – 24″ x 24″ – Oil



    Why are the visual arts important?

    Bain: There is a basic need inside all of us, for beauty. The visual arts meet that need and so much more; they provide an outlet for the human need to create, and in my opinion, are the most honest representation of our diverse and evolving culture.

    Larsen: I think what most people miss about the visual arts are how they impact everything in our lives, from the design of our cars and homes to the clothes we wear!  There have always been artists and will always be artists.  The educational movement right now for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM),  tends to overlook the importance of the arts. The focus should be on STEAM!

    Brown: I believe the visual arts represent the deeper, more civilized portion of our existence. Art, in its various forms, opens our minds to a higher consciousness.

    Walker: ​Since​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​of​ ​recorded​ ​history and​ ​through​ ​all​ ​the​ ​ages,​ ​people​ ​have​ ​been​ ​driven​ ​to​ ​create​ ​art.​ ​There​ ​is something​ ​undefinable​ ​about​ ​it​ ​that​ ​touches​ ​humanity​ ​deeper​ ​than​ ​words​ ​can express.​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​our​ ​desire​ ​and​ ​ability​ ​to​ ​create​ ​is​ ​a​ ​gift​ ​from​ ​the​ ​creator​ ​God,​ ​a privilege​ ​that​ ​I​ ​am​ ​most​ ​grateful​ ​for.


  • September 27, 2017 9:33 AM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Once again, John has provided us with important information about how art has impacted our history....

    In the early 1800’s, paintings depicting themes from classical history and mythology had pretty much run their course. Artists were looking for new subjects, something different through which to distinguish themselves; for many the humble peasant became their new muse. (Click images to enlarge)

    Leopold Robert - "Return from the Pilgrimage to the Madona dell' Arco" - 55" x 83" - Oil (1827)

    Leopold Robert – “Return from the Pilgrimage to the Madonna dell’ Arco” – 55″ x 83″ – Oil   (1827)


    Amidst all the history paintings, historical landscapes, portraits, and still lifes, this new genre stood apart from the others and satisfied the changing tastes of the European culture at the turn of the century.

    Jean-Francois Millet - "Harvesters Resting" - 27" x 47" - Oil (1853)

    Jean-Francois Millet – “Harvesters Resting” – 27″ x 47″ – Oil   (1853)


    One might ask, “What is a peasant?” People of that time seem to have had a variety of opinions…1) They were subjects/servants of the aristocracy. 2) They were a primitive people. 3) They were country folk, producing their own food and making what they lived in and wore…basically self-sufficient. Some writers of the day portrayed them as “oxen without horns”…treated as an animal, a human beast.

    Less specifically, the term “peasant” used loosely came to mean rural laborers…those that lived in the country and worked the land for their livelihood.

    Jules Breton (1827-1906) - "Calling in the Gleaners" - 35" x 46" - Oil (1859)

    Jules Breton (1827-1906) – “Calling in the Gleaners” – 35″ x 46″ – Oil  (1859)

    Julien Dupre (1851-1910) - "The Harvesters" - 15" x 18" - Oil (1889)

    Julien Dupre (1851-1910) – “The Harvesters” – 15″ x 18″ – Oil   (1889)

    Charles Sprague :Pearce (1851-1914) - "Gleaner's Rest" - 30" x 24" - Oil (1885-90)

    Charles Sprague Pearce (1851-1914) – “Gleaner’s Rest” – 30″ x 24″ – Oil   (1885-90)


    The earliest peasantry paintings, however, were strongly influenced by the Classical and Renaissance styles, resulting in idealized beauty of form and lifestyle. The reality, however, was much different as peasants were generally a weathered, diseased, beaten down, impoverished lot. Despite this, many city dwellers were fascinated by them and preferred to think of them as free from many of life’s stresses, a jovial bunch working together in the fields as a family and enjoying their time together as they rested from their labors. They were viewed as manly, strong, industrious, and diligent…people of faith, devotion to family, with a strong work ethic…carriers of strong values worthy of being emulated.

    Leon Augustin Lhermitte (1844-1925) - "The Harvester's Wages" - 83" x 109" - Oil (1882)

    Leon Augustin Lhermitte (1844-1925) – “The Harvester’s Wages” – 83″ x 109″ – Oil   (1882)


    Artists being the perceptive bunch that they are, created paintings that satisfied the public’s romanticized perception. It’s nothing new, we see it throughout art history. The idealized is often preferred over the real; contemporary western art is a prime example.

    I thoroughly appreciate the works of so many artists of this period. The paintings are not only beautiful and well-crafted but they lift up, they celebrate humanity and its relationship to nature…and the peasant many considered to be ignoble, these artists saw in them value and nobility.

    Here’s a good book for you to add to your library; it was the source used for this blog, authored by Richard and Caroline Brettell. 


  • September 03, 2017 7:37 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is blog post by John Pototschnick - a very good read and thought provoking......

    Art buying…emotional or practical?

    Posted on September 3, 2017

    Eric Rhoads is a career entrepreneur with 30 years of launching companies and media brands, creating startups, and building businesses, including over 40 years’ experience in the radio broadcasting field, 25 years in the publishing business, and a decade in the art industry. He is also chairman of the board of Streamline Publishing, Inc. which was the moving force behind the creation of my first DVD, “Limited Palette Landscapes”…available HERE.

    Eric Rhoads

    Eric Rhoads


    In addition to being a consultant and adviser to companies in media, technology, digital media, and art, he also writes a weekly letter that is sent primarily to the art community, titled “Sunday Coffee”.  In a 20 August 2017 article he speaks of the emotional drive, present in all of us, that pretty much affects every purchase we make. I’m excerpting the major theme of the article and want to share it with you. I think it’s good.

    Norman Rockwell - "Thanksgiving, Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes" - 35" x 33.46" - Oil (1945)

    Norman Rockwell – “Thanksgiving, Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes” – 35″ x 33.46″ – Oil   (1945)


    “Emotions drive everything. It’s something I talk about from time to time on my marketing blog. People may rationalize the purchase of a painting with practicalities about how it’s a perfect match to the couch, or explain why that shiny red sports car is more practical because it gets better gas mileage. But the reality is that emotion is running our lives and decisions; we owe it all to emotions.”

    Camille Pissarro - "Bouquet of Flowers" - 21.65" x 18.27" - Oil (1873)

    Camille Pissarro – “Bouquet of Flowers” – 21.65″ x 18.27″ – Oil   (1873)


    “If rational decisions ruled our lives, there would be no art, no paintings, no galleries, no giant overbuilt houses, and no sports cars. Instead we would all live in small brick bunkers with no decorations. Thankfully, most of us prefer something that scratches our emotional itch. Art may be one of the most emotional of all decisions, yet its power to trigger emotions is also healing. Ever look at a painting and take a deep sigh, as if you’d just entered paradise? I have, many times.

    “The emotion of art transforms us to other places in our minds. Hospitals have discovered this, which is why many have giant art budgets and hundreds of paintings. The pain of being ill or visiting a loved one in a hospital can be relieved for a brief moment because a painting transports us to a different place. Who needs Star Trek? Just go to a museum.”

    William Adolphe Bouguereau - "Little Girl Holding Apples" - 36.81" x 21.65" - Oil (1895)

    William Adolphe Bouguereau – “Little Girl Holding Apples” – 36.81″ x 21.65″ – Oil   (1895)


    “Speaking of museums…If you stop and think about the institutions in our lives, most are based on the healing power of art or the arts. Some of the world’s biggest, most impressive public buildings are dedicated to the arts … painting, music, dance. The biggest ones house paintings and sculpture: The Louvre. The Hermitage. The Prado. The Met.

    “If that doesn’t convince you of the lasting power of art, nothing will.”


  • August 27, 2017 2:53 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is a post by OPS-Master, John Pototschnick: 

    Rockwell on my mind

    Posted on August 27, 2017

    When I was in college, many years ago now, the work of Norman Rockwell was sneered at by those in the Fine Art Department…”Old-fashioned, sentimental, trite, work of no consequence,” they would say.

    The harassment sort of muzzled us on the commercial art side, so we found new heroes of illustration…Bob Peak, Mark English, and Bernie Fuchs, among others. They were flashy and very contemporary, doing very exciting work.

    Kacey Schwartz - "Norman Rockwell"

    Kacey Schwartz – “Norman Rockwell”


    But Norman Rockwell is just one of those guys that doesn’t go away. The images remain impressed on our minds, iconic images that just won’t leave. While so many great illustrators have come and gone, the work of Norman Rockwell remains…his paintings popular once again, garnering higher prices than ever at auction.

    Rockwell comes to mind because a few days ago my wife and I were reflecting on trips we’ve taken to New England. “What was the name of the place we stayed in Maine…not Camden, the other place?” “Bar Harbor?” I asked. “Yes, that’s it!” About that time we both began laughing as we remembered our stay in a bed and breakfast there. Having arrived after a long day of driving, we were tired and were looking forward to relaxing with a hot cup of tea. That was not to be as the strict “headmaster” (owner of the b&b) stopped us in our tracks, and with his “long pointy finger” directed us to first read the long list of house rules posted on the wall. Only then were we allowed to proceed into the living area. Are you getting the picture?

    EPSON scanner image

    Norman Rockwell – “Ichabod Crane”. (I couldn’t locate the exact image I had in mind, but this one pretty well captures the feeling of our “headmaster”.


    The house had a wonderful selection of books in their library. Having found one of interest, I brought it with me to the breakfast table the next morning to enjoy while waiting on our meal. The “headmaster” approached our table, reached down, closed the book, and took it from under my nose while saying, “I’ll take that.”….and then he put me over his knee and….



    Ahh, don’t you love Rockwell? He was able to touch our very souls. He made us laugh, nod our heads in agreement, point fingers at others, and reflect on our own insecurities. Art has a wonderful way of communicating that all others forms of expression cannot. Thank you Norman Rockwell.

    ~ John Pototschnick  http://www.pototschnik.com/rockwell-on-my-mind/

  • August 20, 2017 1:43 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is a post by John Pototschnik. A good "read"!

    John Frederick Kensett

    Posted on August 20, 2017

    As professional artists, in my case a painter, it’s an easy thing for the work to consume us. Even when not painting we’re thinking about it…ever looking, analyzing, composing, critiquing, and visualizing new possibilities. The danger, of course, is believing our identity and value as a person is in being an artist. An artist is not who we are, it’s merely what we do. In this regard, I enjoy reading artist biographies, particularly when they delve into the deeper aspects of the artist’s life…the intimate facts of their spiritual beliefs and character traits; those are the subjects that I find especially revealing about any artist.

    John Frederick Kensett

    John Frederick Kensett

    "Sunset Over the Catskills" - Oil (1855)

    “Sunset Over the Catskills” – Oil  (1855)


    It was nice to discover some of these revealing facts about John Frederick Kensett in an October 1966 American Artist magazine article. Kensett had a relatively short life. He only lived 56 years (1816-1872). He is closely associated with the Hudson River School of painters, but as he became more preoccupied with light and its effects, rather than the detailed accuracy of a scene, he became associated with what is now termed Luminism.

    John Kensett - "Lake George" - 44.13" x 66.38" - Oil (1869)

    “Lake George” – 44.13″ x 66.38″ – Oil  (1869)

    John Kensett - "Hudson River Scene" - 32" x 48" - Oil (1857)

    “Hudson River Scene” – 32″ x 48″ – Oil  (1857)


    During the Civil War, Kensett was actively raising money for charity. His generosity and compassion made him one of the most beloved of the Hudson River painters. He also led the fundraising effort in 1863 to erect the first National Academy building and was a founding member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1870.

    A eulogy upon his passing stated: “…an artist at once so admired, gifted and beloved, and whose memory is endeared to us by the recollection of the sweetness of his personal qualities as a man, and by the grace and charm of his work as a painter. All familiar with his pictures recognize in them the prevailing attributes of his character – Truth and Simplicity.” It reminds me of our friend Camille Corot, who was also highly esteemed for his kindness and generosity toward others.

    John Kensett - "A Study of Trees" - Oil

    “A Study of Trees” – Oil

    "Camels Hump from the Western Shore of Lake Champlain" - 31" x 42" - Oil - (1852)

    “Camels Hump from the Western Shore of Lake Champlain” – 31″ x 42″ – Oil  (1852)

    "Late Summer" - 14" x 24" - Oil

    “Late Summer” – 14″ x 24″ – Oil

    "Mountain Landscape" - 18" x 24" - Oil (1850's)

    “Mountain Landscape” – 18″ x 24″ – Oil  (1850′s)


    From the American Artist article: “The paintings of John F. Kensett stand apart from those of other American artists of his period for their pronounced poetic softness and simplicity of concept. They convey a serenity, an atmospheric charm and fidelity to nature to an extent seldom encountered in the canvases of his nineteenth-century contemporaries. These are qualities inherent in and consistent with his personality: never bombastic or flamboyant. Nor did he attempt to press his imagination further than his artistic attributes allowed. Rather, he absorbed and depicted what was spread out before him with utter adherence to his individual vision and personal expression. His aesthetics do not whip up one’s emotions with turbulent themes or brilliant palette. Instead, one is held by a pervading peacefulness, a sense of deep repose.

    "Rhode Island Meadow" - 14.13" x 24" - Oil

    “Rhode Island Meadow” – 14.13″ x 24″ – Oil


    “Yet, for all this quiet, there is a strength in this very gentleness, an emotional stirring that derives its effect from the absence of forced or emphatic statements. Here is thoughtful painting expressive of an artist with a specific kind of talent who understood the gift peculiar only to him, and who recognized his limitations. It is this self-understanding, this self-perception that stamps Kensett as exceptional. The esteem in which he was held throughout his career was for this honesty and the intelligent pursuit of his art, the painstaking perseverance wherewith he developed in the utmost that which was basically his own true temperament. He did not seek to go beyond, but cultivated his natural resources to the highest and fullest extent. It is the poetic tenderness and integrity in his paintings that reach out to the viewer and which, in a recent revival of his work, have brought him renewed acclaim.

    “Since boyhood, Kensett followed a chosen career with full awareness of the narrow range of his aesthetic powers. He never deluded himself on this fact, but concentrated on achieving the technical perfection necessary to do complete justice to his abilities. Nowhere in his letters or diaries does he make claim to, nor is he boastful of, inspirational greatness. We find only repeated references to his determination to conquer the mechanical problems involved and to perfect his craft so that he might one day be a capable, respected, and successful artist.”

    All this he accomplished. In a relatively short lifetime, the name of John Frederick Kensett attained real prominence both here an abroad.

  • August 06, 2017 5:48 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    This post is by OPS Signature Master, John Pototschnik - More images and a video can be viewed on his blog:


    In last week’s blog post I introduced you to Richard Goetz (1915-1991). Goetz, living during the worldwide artistic revolution of abstract expressionism, firmly held to the belief that painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self-expression, and therefore can be a meaningful mode of communication. He was saddened that a lack of solid technical training, among young artists, was producing “bizarre and unorthodox materials and forms.”

    “Without solid training, a painter will lack the ability to communicate to his audience in an understandable way.” That lack, Goetz believes, has tended to “rob the art world of its standards and prompted the viewer to mistake works that are merely different for authentic examples of creativity.”

    Goetz was a figurative, landscape, and still life painter but believed in appropriating the abstract forms found in nature to create shapes and patterns of color that conveyed an understandable message. He did that particularly well when painting still life, so I want to share with you some of his thoughts concerning still life painting, as excerpted from the March 1969, American Artist magazine that featured his work.

    Richard V. Goetz - "The Invaders"

    Richard V. Goetz – “The Invaders”


    “When arranging the still life, one should always concentrate on shapes, colors, lines, rhythms and undulations the objects make, without thinking in terms of storytelling. However, when possible, it is better to use related objects, studying many paintable items to find the near exact element needed for the composition as a whole. I usually spend more time on arrangement and composition than on painting, trying to create as much as possible in the grouping itself, without hesitating to change colors or forms in getting a better composition or a desired effect while painting.

    “Lighting has a particularly important effect on composition, especially in establishing a mood. The big elements of the composition can be controlled by light, as much as the objects selected for the composition. Areas may be placed in shadow by erecting a screen to obstruct the light, evoking emphasis and drama. The angle and direction of light can also control the amount of form you wish to give objects, a light coming from the side will give more form than a light coming from the front.

    “Light coming from a large window will give a soft effect. When the source is a smaller area, such as a single light bulb, the edges will be more clearly defined and the contrasts greater. The combination of artificial and natural light gives a still different effect.”


    “As I am arranging a still life setup, I begin to sketch the big patterns of lights and darks on a piece of charcoal paper, using the flat side of a large stick of charcoal and white chalk. In this manner I am able to work out the large abstract patterns of lights and darks, lines, movements, space relations, undulations, and all the other elements of composition. I usually work out the general idea of the composition in the setup before working with the charcoal and chalk and, as something is added or changed, I work it into the composition on the charcoal paper.”

    Goetz experimented often with various brushes, painting techniques, mediums, and painting supports. He believed this should be done until one finds that which responds best to their temperament, ideas, and gives the desired effect. “Over and over one sees articles or books dealing with the secret formulas of the old masters. The secret was probably in the rigid training and hard work they went through, because we certainly have a greater variety of materials to work with now than they had.”

    Surprisingly, Goetz had a minimum of 25 oil colors on his palette. He believed a limited palette complicated color mixing, because, for example, it is simpler to pick up green than to mix blue and yellow together. The more colors you use, the greater variety you can attain, while reducing the mixing time. He did believe however that the beginner should use fewer colors at the start; then, as he becomes familiar with the various colors, continue adding a greater variety to his palette.


    ‘I believe that the French impressionists made the only great contribution to art since the time of the Dutch masters, but they were also responsible for the loss of craftsmanship in painting. If craftsmanship could be regained and added to the great lessons of color and light of the impressionsists, together with the new ideas and inventiveness of contemporary painters, art would take a significant step forward.’


    Once the composition was thoroughly worked out and transferred to the canvas, Goetz added a tone to canvas or panel and wiped out the light areas with a rag. That served as the first lay-in of paint, and required only a few minutes. “This method should not be confused with some of the elaborate underpainting methods of the past, but should be regarded as a simple and effective way to make a final check on composition, obtaining a clear image of what the finished painting will be like, and controlling the accuracy of the first colors applied.” By using this method, he was able to reduce the amount of time needed for painting a picture.

    “The tone can be any color, but raw umber is usually best. If you want a low-keyed painting, more tone can be left on, while a thinner coat is left for a high-keyed painting. Warmth and coolness of the painting may be controlled by using burnt sienna for a warmer effect, or terre-verte for a cooler one.


    “In the preliminary steps of drawing and toning you may include too much detail and finish; so, to restrain this tendency, paint-in the largest masses, eliminating all detail and minor color changes. The painting should always start with the largest masses of color. If possible, simplify an object by dividing it into two masses – light and shadow. The masses of color must always be related to each other and seen in terms of the light conditions under which you are painting. This is the lesson learned from the French impressionists, especially Monet.

    “Our natural tendency is to see things in terms of local color, not in terms of light. Overcoming this inclination is one of the most challenging aspects of painting. It requires study of how light affects mass, exaggerating the color of light and lessening the local color, until we begin to see color as it actually is under certain light conditions. Our job as artists is not to see things as the layman does, but to develop a visual perception so that we can sensitively interpret the true color of light.

    “Indoor painting will require only three basic kinds of light: artificial, sunny, and overcast. Out-of-doors you get many more light changes, but they are easier to see. It is therefore much better to study color by painting out-of-doors, where the effect of light on objects is more obvious, before trying the more difficult and subtle indoor effects. A simple still life set up in full sunlight is best to start with, followed by the less obvious gray day study, and finally, an indoor arrangement.

    “After the lay-in of the painting in its basic masses, I proceed to the next step – breaking down the masses into secondary changes, with two or three divisions in each general mass. From there on I subdivide each color into smaller changes, until the painting is carried to the degree of finish I wish to present.”

  • August 01, 2017 12:35 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is a post by Master Signature~Emeritus JOHN POTOTSCHNIK: 

    Note:  To view John's post on his personal blog and to see images and videos that accompanied this blog, visit http://www.pototschnik.com/art-training-and-communication/ 

    Art training and communication

    Posted on July 30, 2017

    As I’ve stated a few times, I am fortunate to have available to me some great articles from the American Artist magazine of 50-70 years ago. It was a time that abstract expressionism had a stronghold upon American art, but there were some that stood their ground against all odds and produced work of profound quality.

    I was just graduating from college in 1968 and know firsthand the division that existed in the art department between those that were producing “modern” work and those producing, what was termed “trite”…that is, representational painting.

    Richard V. Goetz, a figurative, landscape, and still life painter, was featured in the March 1969 issue of American Artist. I want to share with you his thoughtful comments regarding how solid art training informs our ability to effectively communicate visually. I have taught my students this for years, so it’s always nice to see it confirmed by others.

    Here are some excerpts from that interview…and the videos are excellent.

    “To me, painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self expression, and can be a most meaningful mode of communication. However, to express and to communicate to the fullest extent one should equip himself with adequate technical knowledge. To a great extent, too many artists do not, and so lack the ability to convey their artistic ideas. Thus, leaning on the use of bizarre and unorthodox materials and forms, instead of a solid technical background, many contemporary painters fails to take full advantage of the communicative value of art.

    “The situation has tended to rob the art world of its standards and prompted the viewer to mistake works that are merely different for authentic examples of creativity. Unfortunately, the artist who uses a realistic technical proficiency is often thought to be uncreative, and only artists of the past are excused fro doing realistic work based on correct technical principles.”


    ‘To me, painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self expression, and can be a most meaningful mode of communication.’


    “To re-establish these standards we must first see that students are well-grounded in a knowledge of drawing, design, and color, as were the great artists of the past.

    “No matter how much technical ability one might possess, this alone does not make an artist. What one has to say aesthetically is really all that counts. However, one can express these emotions only to the degree that his technical and mechanical knowledge will allow. If one could not read or write, he certainly could not produce a great novel, no matter what his other qualifications might be.”


    ‘What one has to say aesthetically is all that counts.’


    “The art schools of today, especially university art departments (my emphasis), have had great success in teaching and stimulating the creative aspects of art, but many have failed to equip the student with the technical ability to express himself in an intelligible way. Therefore, art has gone from one ridiculous extreme to another, and now we have many painters with great ideas, who lack the ability to execute them by comprehensible means.”


    “I believe that the purpose of the painter is not to render a two-dimensional illustration of his subject, but to observe the aesthetic qualities of nature, and interpret and arrange these elements in an understandable, yet artistic, way.

    “The purpose of painting should be of an abstract nature, enabling the artist to use elements of the subject that create patterns and shapes of color that convey a message beyond prettiness or cheap sentiment.

    “I believe that composition is the most important element in painting.”

    Note:  To view the original post which contains images and videos, visit John's website blog: http://www.pototschnik.com/art-training-and-communication/  

  • July 24, 2017 9:51 AM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is a blog post authored by OPS Master Signature John Pototschnik:

    Helpful thoughts about color

    Posted on July 23, 2017

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same”…as the saying goes…certainly applies to many art related principles.

    Some years ago when I was actively involved in Artists and Craftsmen Associated (ACA), I was befriended by Vi Froman, the wife of ACA founder, Ray Froman. I never had the opportunity to meet Ray but Vi, over the years, graced me with several books, magazines, sketches, and paintings from Ray’s studio. I’ve referenced articles from some of the early American Artist magazines in this blog.

    Artist and featured writer, Russell Cowles, made some interesting comments concerning color in the April 1949 issue that I think still apply, and will therefore instruct and/or reinforce some important principles when working with color.

    Anders Zorn (1860-1920) - "Emma Zorn and Mouch, the dog" - 38.39" x 26.57" - Oil (1902)

    Anders Zorn (1860-1920) – “Emma Zorn and Mouch, the dog” – 38.39″ x 26.57″ – Oil (1902)


    “The business of color is complicated. While it is probable that the supreme masters of color are “born that way,” I am certain that whatever native gift they may have has been developed through training. Our painters seem to me to submit willingly to self-discipline in drawing, composition, organization of their pictures in light and dark balance, but to leave the matter of color to feeling or “instinct.” The result is usually accidental or capricious.”

    Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) - "The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons" - 127" x 166" - Oil (1789)

    Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) – “The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons” – 127″ x 166″ – Oil  (1789)


    “If you decide to train yourself as an artist, I see no reason why your use of color should be the one anarchistic element in your work. Emphasizing again the prime necessity of developing the greatest possible sensibility of the eye, without which no system or theory of color will do any good, and disclaiming any interest in color systems good or bad, I still think that certain things about color, the result of long experience by many artists, can be stated for the benefit of others.

    “Perhaps the first of these is the balance of cool and warm colors. Cool and warm are relative terms.”


    ‘A neutral gray alongside a hot red will feel cool, while the same gray next to a cold blue will feel warm.’


    “Neutral tones, incidentally, are extremely important, so much so in fact that a fine colorist can almost be distinguished by the way he uses neutrals in modifying and balancing his strong colors.”

    Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) - "Lake George" - 10.24" x 19.59" - Oil (1862)

    Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) – “Lake George” – 10.24″ x 19.59″ – Oil  (1862)


    “Next in importance might be the use of a dominant color. Everybody knows the old gag of what would happen if an irresistible force met an immovable body. The answer can be found in most any large art exhibit. When a picture contains two opposing colors, each in  its fullest intensity, and of relatively equal quantity and importance, a conflict occurs that must destroy the unity of the picture in spite of anything the painter can do about it. The answer is that one color should dominate the others, just as one form in a composition must dominate the rest.”


    ‘A saturated color in a small area may balance a large area of another less saturated color in a way that does not destroy the picture unity.’


    “Two opposing colors that clash when adjacent to each other often live happily in the same picture when separated by a neutral area. Strongly opposing colors set up a tension between them, and such tensions should not occur in haphazard fashion in a picture, but should be reserved for the occasions when needed.”

    Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909) - "Almuerzo con Otto Benson" - Oil (1893)

    Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909) – “Almuerzo con Otto Benson” – Oil  (1893)


    “When beginning a painting, decide what is to be the dominant color, and stick to that decision. Then perhaps try another sketch with the same palette, but choosing one of the other colors as the dominant.”

  • April 15, 2017 6:46 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    This is a note to OPS from Barbara Rallo, Co-Chair of En Plein Air Texas - EPAT is an excellent plein air event and if you "make the cut", you're guaranteed to have a great time painting in San Angelo!  

    Hello Plein Air Artists!


    May 1st, is the deadline for applications to the 2017 EnPleinAirTEXAS (EPAT), and if you haven't already applied this year, we hope you will consider it SOON!


    With outstanding sales each of our three years (last year’s topping $220,000!), we’ve quickly become known as one of the top events in the country.  We love taking care of ‘our’ artists, and each year enjoy the first-timers as well as the returning artists.  Host homes, lots of community support, unlimited vistas for inspiration, and food & parties, are just part of the reason our artists leave full of smiles.


    Kenn Backhaus is our juror for 2017, and Roger Dale Brown will be the Awards Judge for this year.


    News for 2017 ~ 


    Optional Pre-event Paint-Out in nearby Ballinger and surrounding towns on Saturday, Oct 21st to introduce new fans to you right off the bat!  Lots of publicity this year, lunch provided, and we're planning a community reception at the end of the day and working on at least a Peoples' Choice Award.


    NEW private ranches - they are fabulous, AND they want to cook for you!  Pictures coming later on the website.


    ~ Time for some speedy painting!  Competition Artists are special guests at the 64th Annual San Angelo Cinch Roping Fiesta, the longest running stand-alone roping event in the nation!  Enjoy & PAINT all Saturday afternoon at the event that brings in old-time big ranchers from all over the country.  They will be invited to the Sunday Chuck Wagon Breakfast where we will display ALL the Roping Paintings when the doors open at 9am (in addition to showcasing your other paintings for them at the Fort).


    Saturday Night we're planning an 'Artsy' Party at the Exhibits  - with live music, some craziness, and we're working with some of our younger doctors and friends to attract more new audiences to the event.


    ​A few more surprises are still in the works!  We are working hard to make 2017 even better.  Watch the website for updates, look over the itinerary, and we'll stay in touch.


    But, first you've got to apply by MAY 1st!


    We hope you'll be joining last year's top winners (and Invited Artists) Jason Sacran, Patrick Saunders, Shelby Keefe, ​and Jill Basham and help us make it another amazing EnPleinAirTEXAS in 2017!


    ​Have a great plein air season, and we hope to see you here in October.


    Barbara & the EPAT Gang

    ​ ​ 

    Check out the website - we have a new look!


    Barbara Rallo

    Coordinator/Co-Chair EnPleinAir TEXAS


    (325) 656-2500

Outdoor Painters Society™ 

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