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 01, 2024 7:02 PM | Rona Lesser

    looking for one more female roommate or else one more person to drive with us to Big Bend paint out.  ronalesser@gmail.com

  • January 14, 2023 1:54 PM | Dena Davis

    If anyone wants to share a cabin or has space for 2 ppl let me know. You can contact me at dendavis2@gmail.com. Or 972-978-5340.  

  • September 29, 2021 4:55 PM | Nancy Tyler (Administrator)

    1. Drink lots of water, it will keep you alert, your energy level up, and your joints lubricated.

    2.Prepare for warmer temps than expected and cooler temps than expected.  In Texas anything goes weather wise. 

    3.Read the rules and know the timeline of the event.

    4.Prep and measure your frames (and mats if needed) before the event. Double check (maybe triple check) that you have tools and supplies you need for framing

    5.Budget your time. Schedule time for travel, meals, framing, etc. Then stick to your schedule when you’re painting.

    6.Enjoy the process, which is easier said than done in a competition setting. Be serious when painting, but then stop and have fun!

    7.Socialize with other painters. Introduce yourself to other painters and ask them a few questions about their paintings. You can make painting friends pretty easy at an event like this because you all share a love for painting!

  • September 29, 2021 4:52 PM | Nancy Tyler (Administrator)

    For Orientation: 

    Pen for note taking, completions & signature of W-9 (know your SS# and/or TaxID), signature for any needed property liability releases, etc. 

    Bring surfaces sufficient to complete during competition time, officials will stamp these surfaces on the backside.  Unstamped surfaces will not be eligible for judging.  

    Bring your very best Positive Attitude!

    For Take-In: 

    Your completed, ready-to-hang Competition Paintings, your completed Inventory Sheet, labels for each of your entry paintings.

    Bring a pen to edit and complete all paperwork.  Tape to affix labels on the back of each painting. 

    Please, be on time and come prepared.

    For Quick Draw 

    Your easel, your paints, hat, umbrella, water, and timer to help you judge your allotted time. 

    Frame to fit your stamped surface, all hanging hardware and tools to apply the hardware.  Pen to complete your labels.  Tape to affix your labels.  Many Quick Draw events are judged outdoors, set up on your easel.  So prepare for wind to avoid disaster. 

    Bring your best manners and social skills to VIP Reception and Award Presentations

    Host Thank you suggestions: 

    Remember to Thank Your Host!  A hand written sincere note card will be remembered always.  Additional gifts such as a framed/unframed painting, gift card, flowers, candy, wine, etc  if appropriate are usually appreciated. 

  • 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.


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