Monday, December 8, 2014

Shadow on a Hill - and a Good Gift Idea

Shadow on a Hill
oil on canvas, 18x24

People are always telling me about places they love, scenes they think I should paint. I always welcome the input, and enjoy seeing sights that inspire others.

But what catches my eye, and what catches their eye, these are often different. So I was glad that I asked the person who commissioned this painting just what delighted her about it. Turns out it is the shadow on the hill, and the way the autumn colors shine in that darker area. 

Thank heavens I asked her! I'd have painted the shadow, and the brilliant colors in it - but I'd probably not have painted it as a shadow. I'd have painted the whole hillside in those deep, saturated colors - and not have included the relatively washed-out, sunny edge of the hill. And it's a much better painting with that edge included. 

It's often hard to put into words what one likes about a landscape, I think. For me, it is often a feeling that the landscape evokes in me, a feeling that comes from what's there and what's not there. It's a feeling that comes from the balance of light and shadow, the mood of the sky, the colors of the land, the presence or absence of buildings and civilization. 

As I paint, I grow closer to understanding why this landscape attracts me, takes my breath away, makes me want to share the feelings it evokes. The better I understand all that, I think, the better the painting. So there's a challenge. It's an even bigger challenge to capture the feeling that a landscape evokes in someone else! I'm glad I asked some questions about this one, and hope I remember to do that always. 


MY NEXT PAINTING TRIP is coming up! The Origins Painting Trip will take me to Arizona to visit my dad and stepmother, and participate in the Tubac Arts Festival - and then, I'm going to spend a good block of time in and around Fort Defiance, and Ganado, where I was born, on the Navajo reservation in the northeast corner of the state. 

I'm going to paint the powerful, colorful landscapes, the huge skies, the small towns. I'm going to paint to capture the beauty and breadth of the area, the richness and the desolation. I'm going to paint to understand how this land, where I lived for my first couple years, has influenced me as a person and as a painter. 

I'd love for you to come along with me! Sponsorships run from $50 to $1000. They all include access to a regular sponsor-only blog from the trip, a chance to win a painting from the trip, postcards from the road, and more. For $125 and above, you will get original oil paintings from the trip. And for any sponsorship, you will receive my undying gratitude. 

A sponsorship would make a great holiday present! Give it to someone you love, or ask someone you love to give it to you. If you'd like me to drop a hint to that someone, that you'd like a sponsorship, drop me an email at



FOR MOST OF US, sunset starts getting later THIS WEEK. Here in Wachapreague, it happens on Thursday. Yes, the days continue to get shorter, because sunset comes later - but that all-important sunset is going to start coming later. Check out sunset times in your town by clicking here.

THERE'S SOME GREAT STUFF about winter, and soup would be tops on my list. There's nothing quite like a house filled with the steam, warmth and aroma of a good stock, and then a good soup, sitting on the stove all day. 

ON THE WAY TO TEXAS, I got off at an exit somewhere in Tennessee to get gas and a cup of coffee. At the gas station, I heard myself utter this question, in this form: "Do you know where that Dunkin' Donuts is at?" 

AND SPEAKING OF TEXAS, guess where gas prices were the highest, as I traveled last month? Texas. Tell me how that makes sense. 

THE STRETCH OF ROAD from Tucson to Tubac, and beyond, is the only stretch of road in the US that's measured - on the road signs and exits - only in kilometers. So, the distance between Exit 50 and Exit 56 is six kilometers. I've driven that road many times while visiting Dad and Paula, but until a news story on NBC this weekend, I never knew it was the only road measured metrically. 

I SAW THIS scary barn in Delaware, on my way to a Cooper family gathering the weekend before Thanksgiving. Looks like it would be a great Halloween outing. 

Dog of the Day

It's Tyler, our new granddog. He's a great dog, happy as can be, 
living with Erika, Ashton and Paul. 
Want your pet to be Dog of the Day? 
Send me a jpg at

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