Painting Process – Richmond Painting


Richmond Painting 2017-03 mod web

Continuing on my path to try and be more abstract, this poor painting went through MANY iterations (not least of which was a completely new reference image after painting on it for about 3-4 sessions). I played with adding cars, removing cars, adding building details, removing details, changed the color palette from a sort of mauvy base to this more cerulean blue base. This is also one of the largest paintings I’ve attempted since college, hitting 3×4 feet. I struggle a lot with the scale. Only in the last 2 sessions did it really click that all I wanted to do was play with colors and layering (versus capturing structural details – my instinctive approach). I feel a little more confident about it, and already have ideas for what I want – no, how I want – to paint next.

Richmond - 1st round

After a few sessions, this was where the painting was. I was not happy with how bright it was and how there was no continuity of palette – just a full on rainbow that barfed on the page. I also was already giving detail I didn’t want.

Richmond - 2nd round

I toned it down and tried to pretend like I didn’t know how to capture the perspective (it was too round and I wanted more angularity). I couldn’t handle it though.

Richmond - nevermind

That’s what I have to say about that painting!

Richmond - 3rd round

Starting fresh. Leaning heavily on my tan/mauve and purple palette. It wasn’t striking a chord though.

Richmond - 4th round Which is how it got so green! This is a sample of when I started adding too much detail (and cars) that I did eventually ditched. Not to say that it wouldn’t be fun to make a realistic painting of San Francisco again some day, but I am really trying to experience this new way of thinking about the process.

Painting Process


I’ve been on a painting kick in the last year. Normally I don’t make time to get down into the garage to work on personal projects, but I’ve been trying harder to make it a habit. Helping keep me on task, I’ve also been documenting my process more than I ever have, and in this last painting, I took snapshots of the piece at the end of every painting session in order to see how the piece evolves. It’s so easy to forget where you started from, especially when you have days and weeks between sessions. So, I enjoyed seeing it come together and thought it would be fun to share.


A little back story is that the photo I referenced I took while on a road trip through the Southwest. The image was taken on Navajo land just east of the Grand Canyon. The gorge in the painting is in fact the same canyon, just a little less of the grand part, as it becomes shallow and narrow enough to cross like any ol’ river a few miles further down the road from where the photo was taken.

Plein Air Paintings, Central California


This past weekend I attended WooCamp, near San Lucas, California. I took the opportunity to be off the grid to give oil painting another go. I hadn’t touched the stuff in probably 5 years, mostly on account of it being extremely messy and me having no where in my humble apartments to work on it without destroying every piece of clothing I own, or the apartment itself.

But it was nice to get my hand back in it (yeah, literally, I’m such a messy painter), and no better place than spring in central California. This is the off highway 101 Central, not off Highway 5 or 99 Central, to be specific. And yeah, there’s a difference. While both are pretty rural/agricultural, the hills along this side of the state make all the difference. It’s definitely a part of California that doesn’t see much play in tour books, but definitely the sweeping chaparral that I strongly associate with this state and my childhood. Golden hills, purple and blue shadows, bright yellow mustard plants popping up every where, and the quintessential gnarly oak trees, which are so impressive to look at, but SO difficult for me to paint.

I make no promises to have many more of these posted in any near future, but in an ideal world, I’d have time (and space) to paint more often.