Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to DCPAPA & Friends

Happy Thanksgiving to DCPAPA. Above is a plein air pastel sketch I painted last month at the Clearing in Door Co.  For those of you who know the campus I was sitting on the bluff behind the Schoolhouse facing Green and Ellison Bays.  It is a beautiful place where they have week long classes mostly in arts & crafts and nature study from May thru October and where I took my first watercolor class in 2004.  Their website is The other photo I took yesterday in the UW Arboretum where I had a close encounter with these guys while taking reference photos for snow paintings.  Too cold for me to paint outdoors.  Bill Hosner is a pastelist who paints only outdoors; he paints beautiful winter paintings and says he has gotten frostbite at least twice.  When it's cold enough to get frostbitten I opt for the comforts of the studio.  Happy Holidays to everyone and feel free to email me or Tom any winter paintings you would like posted on the blog.  Stay warm!  Pat

Friday, November 7, 2014

Winter Painting

Last Monday we had our last scheduled group outing at Olbrich Gardens and had some fairly decent weather.  Seems like were mostly lucky this past year with the weather.  I'll contact the group members again next spring to schedule more outings.

Although we won't have scheduled outings during the winter I encourage everyone to use our member distribution list if you're planning on an outing and wish to invite others for company.  It would also be nice to keep some new posts going during the winter and invite all of you to post your winter paintings.  If you're not sure how to post it yourself simply email your image and any associated comments to Pat Wafer, or to me, and we will post it.

I want to thank all of you who came out and painted and made 2014 a successful year for the group.  And things look even more promising for 2015 with a few of you talking about retirement and being able to paint more often.  I personally appreciate the friends I've made and how they've helped me better understand my painting and how to improve.  And I'm not just referring to the details of technique, but, more importantly, how to think constructively and positively about painting.

To get us thinking about winter painting I'm posting four paintings by some of my favorite artists.  The top painting is by George Sotter who is famous for his many snow scene paintings.  The second is by Richard Thompson, a Wisconsin resident and a painter who I consider to be rather under-rated.  Then two paintings by living painters.  The stream scene is by Peggy Root.  I just recently discovered her paintings and have been quite impressed with how she seems to use a very distinct color scheme for every painting.  In other words, her paintings don't all look alike.  The bottom painting is by Mark Boedgers.  Just an exceptional painter who reminds of Richard Schmidt.  Mark has been at the Door County Plein Air event the past couple years.

Happy Painting!

Tom Gilbert

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Indian Lake

I painted this last Monday afternoon at Indian Lake.  Probably the last day with temps in the 70's for a long while.

Lodi Ice Age Trail October 23, 2014

Here's my painting from our ice age trail outing. (6x12", oil on board). I knew what I wanted to capture and didn't have a lot of time. I laid down the basic components while I was there and added paint in the studio. I remember my impression of the scene was of bright greens, oranges and reds so that's what I added. When I look at the photos I took that day they look very beige. Also, there wasn't much going on in the sky so I added the clouds. A lot of artistic license, I know, but then, that's why we paint, right?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lodi Ice Age Trail Outing

I'm attaching my painting from last week up near Lodi.  It seemed like a lot of the foliage color had faded but still some nice landscapes up there.  This is the same hill I painted last year at this time.

Tom Gilbert

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Plein Air Paintings @ Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee

Seeing the LightWisconsin Plein Air Painting
October 17 - January 11, 2015

Opening Reception
Friday, October 17
6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Members Only Preview 5:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Seeing the Light explores Plein Air painting through the works of nine prominent Wisconsin artists. Each artist demonstrates their ability to play with light in their own unique way while painting outdoors. Focusing on architecture, street scenes or landscapes, these nine artists celebrate the beauty found in Wisconsin. Join us for a contemporary look at Wisconsin Plein Air painting, by our very own. Seeing the Light features the work of Lori Beringer, Matt Holt, Shelby Keefe, Tom Kubala, Darron Lillian, Kyle Martin, Mary Ulm Mayhew, Tim Nachreiner, and Bonnie Paruch.                                                                                                                                                                                                             ( I met Bonnie Paruch at her Door Co. studio last Saturday and she told me about this show at the Charles Allis Art Museum in Milwaukee.  Looks like a great show for Wisconsin plein air painters.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Theodore Robinson and Sugar River Events

A good number of painters from our group just finished the Theodore Robinson Plein Air Event in Evansville this past Saturday.  The weather was a bit on the wet and cloudy side but we had eight days to paint so we did catch a few days (or partial days) of good weather.  And the country side fall colors were great.  Three best of show awards were awarded by the judges.  Congratulations to Jan Norsetter who won first prize and Diane Washa who won third.  Many quite beautiful paintings were produced.  I'm hoping those of you who participated will post some of your paintings.

I'm also attaching a notice for the "Seasons of the Sugar River Back Roads and Backwaters" show coming up in Monroe.  I have one painting in that show which I'm also attaching (since they somehow failed to put it on the poster ;-)

Tom Gilbert

Monday, October 13, 2014

Plein Air Study

This is a detail from a small pastel study I painted at Holy Wisdom Monastery this weekend.  Cropping can be very instructive.  Love the red of sumac in the fall.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Curtis Prairie - UW Arboretum

Plein air pastel I painted a couple weeks ago.  Lots of prairie flowers blooming esp purple and white asters.  Such great weather for painting this fall!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Exactly is a Plein Air Painting?

I was going back over my blog posts and noticed how in nearly all cases I've taken my plein air efforts home and worked on them further to varying extents. So then are these not plein air paintings?  There are the purists who say a plein air painting must be done entirely on location. Others view plein air primarily as studies to use in studio paintings.

In the November issue of Plein Air Magazine Eric Rhoads weighs in on this this debate and says: “We must get beyond these arbitrary restrictions and focus on the important facts: Plein air paintings are those that are started outdoors on location and reflect the sense of a scene as well as the colors of light, shadow, atmosphere, and form that cannot be seen in a photo. Whether it's a study or a landscape painting executed in the studio that started en plein air, what matters is the end result: quality works begun – and, in many cases, completed – on location.”

One of my guiding principles (that I picked up from the advice of various master painters) is to never knowingly leave a painting with mistakes in it.  If you see a problem, fix it.  Always striving to work up to, at least, your own judgment or standard of quality.  This isn't always easy and often there's the debate of whether one should risk worsening a painting by trying to fix something.  But for the developing painter (not burdened with needing to sell paintings) I think it's better to err on the side of fixing mistakes.  So when I get a plein air painting home I don't hesitate to work on it further if I feel it needs it.

I can also the understand the purist's viewpoint.  I had a particularly good painting day last summer where I got into “the zone” and had a very enjoyable painting experience.  When I finished I felt like the painting was the trace of a great experience and I didn't want to change anything.  Almost as if I would be disrespecting that experience if I touched up the painting.  Of course, my more typical painting experience falls somewhat short of “great”, and I may not hold a resultant painting in such high regard.

These are my thoughts, and others may have different, and valid, ideas on some of these matters, but I do think Eric Rhoads is on the right track by emphasizing that what matters is adherence to the authentic spirit of plein air painting.

Tom Gilbert

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cam-Rock County Park

We had a good turnout, great weather, and a preview of some fall colors painting at Cam-Rock Park yesterday.  I wasn't, however, very inspired by the painting I did, so instead, I'm posting a painting I did last Friday at Door Creek Park that I'm more excited about.  I was really happy with how the overall texture of this one turned out.  -  Tom Gilbert

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cherokee, too

© Jan Norsetter - 9.11.2014, oil on panel, 8" x 6"
Ok, Cherokee was a bit of a challenge. I had to wear my winter outdoor gear to keep warm. The temperature was in the 40s and the wind was strong! I tried to capture the grey sky, greyer water and the look of the greens as they begin to take on autumn.
Lunch at Marla's was fantastic. Well worth the windy torment of the marsh.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cherokee Park

Last Thursday we painted at Cherokee Park on Madison's north side.  This was after the previous day's rain and it was cloudy and surprisingly cool.  But we were able to warm up after painting with a very nice lunch at Marla Brenner's house, who lives nearby.  Combined with the steady breeze off the lake I wasn't able to get very far with painting but am posting what I finished at home.  The wind was enough to flip the lily pads up sideways which I tried to capture (you might have to look close).

Tom Gilbert

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Art Show September 21st

This show features a couple artist friends, Jim Miller and Nan Zindars; definitely worth a look.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pheasant Branch Outing

Changing the painting date to Wednesday seemed to work out well.  Here's a backlit painting I did at Pheasant Branch and then during the rainy day today, I worked on it more at home.  Maybe I over did the dramatic cloud lighting thing but ... hey, I'm trying to compensate for my normal tendencies towards sutble, muted colors (i.e. sometimes "drab").  I'll eventually get that right balance which seems to be what painting is mostly all about.  I'll pick a September painting date soon.   Tom

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mineral Point 2014 Paint Out

E Survey Rd, oil on panel, 9x12"

Morning on Suthers Rd, oil on panel, 11x17"

The Mineral Point Paint Out was fun. We couldn't have had better weather. The countryside is so gorgeous the challenge is deciding what to paint.
I painted the Morning on Suthers Road on Thursday morning and the East Survey Road on Thursday evening.  It's a bit of a marathon knocking out two paintings in one day. Actually, I tried two more paintings on Thursday but didn't finish either of them (yet).

My E Survey Road (above, top) painting received an honorable mention. I was surprised and pleased to get an award. There were lots of nice paintings (including Tom Gilbert's!).

Very happy I went. The artists were friendly and it's always fun to talk "shop". The organizers had a nice get together at the Walker House on Friday evening for all the artists. I met many of the artists there. Often, at plein air events, you don't see any of the other artists or you're too busy painting to chat with them. The party was a great way to get to know and chat with many of the other artists.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mineral Point Paint Out

Some painters from our group, or who painted with us at one time, participated in the Mineral Point Plein Air "Paint Out" event this past weekend.  Including Mary McCormick, Marla Brenner, Diane Washa, Jan Norsetter and myself.  I never saw a complete listing of painters so it's possible I'm missing someone else.

The best of show award was $1,000 and the event attracted a good number of high quality painters from Wisconsin and Iowa (and maybe more states).  Jan didn't seem to be all that satisfied with her paintings but she still won one of the awards.  Hopefully she will post the painting for the group to see.  I'm attaching my painting showing an example of the great rural scenery in the area.  The downtown historic village also provided good painting material and overall it was a fun event.

My only complaint is we had canvases stamped Thursday morning and then had to turn in paintings by 6 pm Friday.  It would have been nice to have more days for a more leisurely painting pace.  This was the first time for this event but I believe they plan to make it an annual event and they may make some changes for next year.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

September Workshop

I just signed up for this workshop and since it will probably fill up quickly I thought I would post it in case anyone is interested.  I attended Kyle's Values workshop in June and it was very helpful and alot of fun. He is an excellent painter and teacher.  Using photo references is not my favorite way to paint but can be a big help especially when it gets too cold to paint outdoors (sorry, I should not even mention the word cold !)  We plein air painters have really had a great summer so far!.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Kyle's workshops, etc.

Friday, August 1, 2014

McCarthy Park, July 29, 2014

Jan Norsetter, 11x14, oil on panel, July 29, 2014
Nice windy evening until a sudden storm blew in and we had to hastily put away our easels.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Curtis Prairie - July 16th

Went to UW Arboretum yesterday and tried to capture some of the huge clouds passing over the prairie.  Lots of beautiful wild flowers out there.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Babcock Park

 Tom took this photo of me painting this week at Babcock Park.  We had perfect weather with a good breeze to keep the bugs away. These pastels are painted on Pastelmat, a French paper that is smooth and suede-like and holds lots of pigment.  They make a nice yellow color that is good for summer paintings but I often do underpaintings usually with pastel and alcohol which dries fast even when it's chilly.  Pastelmat will take watercolor also.  The park was a good place to paint and I wasn't bothered by the traffic noise. Nice to see Mary and Doug, too!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Another Spring Green Painting

Pat's painting from Spring Green inspired me to share a painting (actually, an underpainting) that's also from the Spring Green Preserve (but not done Plein Air).  There's a lot of good painting material at the preserve and my painting shows one of the views if you hike on the trails to the hill tops.  It was too far to carry my heavy easel.  This is just the underpainting but I'm hesitating to paint over it because I like it as it is.  But one of these days I'll finish it and hopefully not ruin what I consider to be a promising start.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Spring Green Preserve - July 3rd

Above is a watercolor sketch I painted last week at the Spring Green Preserve.  It was beautiful but a bit buggy.  Right is a pastel painting of a dead tree on the main trail with the bluff in the background. I painted that in the studio from the watercolor sketch below.  I think the plein air sketches are more successful. I also enjoyed a visit to the Jura Silverman Gallery in Spring Green.  On July 19 they will have a show featuring Wisconsin artists like Jonathan Wilde & David Bielot.  Mr. Bielot paints large watercolors en plein air with gorgeous washes in them. Pretty amazing paintings.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pope Farm Evening, June 17, 2014

It was a beautiful evening at Pope Farm. The sun was out until about 7pm when the sky clouded over. Plein air oil on panel, 8"h x 16"w.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pope Farm Conservancy - June 17th

 It was a lovely evening at Pope Farm last week.  I was too lazy to lug all my gear up the hill so I just did some sketches with Caran d'Ache watersoluble crayons which was fun.  Used a Pentel brushpen on this one. One of my favorite tools for sketching.
The bugs were a bit of a nuisance but otherwise a perfect evening and nice to see Tom, Gretchen, Jan and Jan.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Here's my painting from yesterday at Indian Lake County Park.  Really a beautiful evening.  And to those who saw this painting yesterday, yes, it is different ... I fixed it up a bit after returning home.

Tom Gilbert

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Toft Point - Door County

Last week I went to Door County for painting and birdwatching and was very lucky to have perfect weather with high's in the 60's & 70's.  This is a view from Toft Point in early evening.  A Pileated Woodpecker was nearby.  I tried to put into practice what I learned at Kyle Martin's recent plein air workshop mainly concentrating on values.  I also signed up for his Values Workshop for June 7 & 8.  He is going to be doing a demo painting from noon to 2pm at the opening for his new show in Reedsburg on May 31st and I am hoping to go up there for that.  His demos are very entertaining and informative.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

For those of you who painted at the Token Creek Conservancy park with the group, or for anyone who may want to paint there, I thought I'd point out that I went back there yesterday in the late afternoon / evening and found the creek was pretty much all in shadow but the distant tree line as viewed from near the wooden bridge had some real nice side lighting on it.  I painted elsewhere but may even come back a third time for this view and light.  See photos. The second one is zoomed in and you'd have to do some walking to reach this view.

Tom Gilbert

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Paintings from the first two gatherings.  One is from the arboretum and the other is from Token Creek.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15 at Curtis Prairie in the UW Arboretum

I know it was raining and we don't go painting in the rain but I thought I would anyway. I sat in the car with my 6x8 pochade box on my lap and looked out the window to do this. It's not a very powerful piece. Rainy days are more subdued, though. I'd like to go back there but will try a tighter focus. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lilac Time at UW Arboretum

Tomorrow we are scheduled to paint in the morning at the Arboretum so I thought I would have a trial run in the Horticultural Garden today.  It was chilly even with long underwear which I am so sick of!! Bundle up tomorrow!  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Token Creek: Painting from May 6th outing

Here's my painting from the May 6th outing.  About 90% of this was done plein air, with some final touches done in my studio. [8"x10", oil on canvas panel]   Had a great time!

 - Jan Feyzi

Sunday, May 11, 2014

trying out an upload

Plein Air Painting Workshop

This weekend I attended a great 2 day "Spring Colors" workshop in Baraboo taught by Kyle Martin.   Kyle painted a demo painting each morning and we students painted all afternoon trying to use his suggested techniques.  Correct values and correct colors and accurate drawing were the basic things we worked on as we painted in a Baraboo neighborhood.  Now I feel like I have a plan and an approach for plein air painting to keep me busy all summer.  Kyle gave each student lots of help and individual attention and he is a very talented teacher as well as painter.  I signed up for his June "Values" workshop and highly recommend any of his workshops which are posted on his blog ( The info for the June workshop is below. This workshop will be at his studio which is in the country between Baraboo and Reedsburg.  Should be alot of fun, too.