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.

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

    What is Art?

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

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


    Frank J. Reilly, A.N.A


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

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

    Notice how the students are dressed.

    Notice how the students are dressed.

    Check out those high-heals.

    Check out those high-heals.


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

    Reilly's figure-painting palette.

    Reilly’s figure-painting palette.


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





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





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



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



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

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



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

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

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



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

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


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

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

    Charles Sprague Pearce

    Posted on November 26, 2017

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


    Charles Sprague Pearce


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

    Adam and Andrea Clague interview

    Posted on November 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

    Adam and Andrea Clague


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Andrea Orr Clague

    Andrea Clague


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


    Adam Clague

    Adam Clague


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

  • 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.”

Outdoor Painters Society™ 

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