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  February, 2007 -- Location, Location

For the past six years, winter on the Front Range has been a mild affair. This year has proved to be the exception. Cold temperatures and a repetition of snowstorms got me thinking about a retreat to warmer climes. So I phoned my friend, Chuck Mardosz, who is an artist in Colorado Springs, and we decided that a painting trip to the Pacific Coast would be the perfect remedy for cabin fever.

We spent eight days painting in one of my favorite areas – the coastline, from Monterey to the beginning of Big Sur. There’s something almost primordial about standing on jutting rocks and painting, while the wind screams and giant combers crash around you.

We painted on-location every day, and we both managed to complete more than thirty paintings. At the conclusion of the trip, we both agreed that, besides amassing a fine collection of paintings and photographs, we had come away with a much deeper understanding of the machinations of the ocean, and California light. And that “deeper understanding” is the real souvenir that an artist brings home from any painting excursion.

I’ve been painting “on-location” for over a quarter of a century. As a young artist, I learned that, if I wanted Nature to unlock her secrets, I would have to

pursue those mysteries out in the open air. I’ve painted countless oils, pastels and watercolors out-of-doors, and I feel that those attempts have greatly contributed to my artistic growth. Nonetheless, I still consider myself basically a “studio” painter who, again and again, returns to the “Source” (Nature)  for inspiration, experience and further guidance.

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Some of my outdoor paintings are good and some are horrible, but each is a like a short meditation, during which I observe, absorb and experience. I have stacks of sketchbooks from all over the world, and when I pore over them I can still recall the conditions and anecdotes attached to each painting. Without those painting records, I would find the corresponding photos would fall short of being adequate reference material for my studio works.

“Outdoor” painting has now become “en plein air” painting, and what was once “a means to an end” has fashionably become an “end” in itself. Don’t forget that a painting rises and falls on its own merit, and where it’s painted is irrelevant.

A few of my Pacific coast location paintings. Click on any one to see larger.

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Some of my outdoor paintings are good and some are horrible, but each is a like a short meditation, during which I observe, absorb and experience. I have stacks of sketchbooks from all over the world, and when I pore over them I can still recall the conditions and anecdotes attached to each painting. Without those painting records, I would find the corresponding photos would fall short of being adequate reference material for my studio works.

“Outdoor” painting has now become “en plein air” painting, and what was once “a means to an end” has fashionably become an “end” in itself. Don’t forget that a painting rises and falls on its own merit, and where it’s painted is irrelevant.