Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Waterways" Exhibition Opening Tomorrow - Dec. 12 @ 5-8pm

 I hope you'll join us at For Art's Sake Gallery tomorrow for the opening reception of "Waterways".

The exhibit will include vibrant and expressive representational landscapes of the James River through the seasons, as well as various vistas around Virginia and the surrounding states. 

The exhibit runs December 1, 2014 – February 2, 2015. For Art’s Sake Gallery is located at 9770 Gayton Rd, Henrico, VA 23238. For more information call (804) 740-1400 or visit 

Artist Statement: "Everywhere I travel scenes beg to be painted. Light and vivid color captivates me. Of course God creates the most vibrant and dynamic colors and patterns-even so, I enjoy paying homage to His designs by rendering 2D versions of what I see. I love to paint the details of what I see: the contrasts in the lights and darks and the vibrancy of the world. The heavens truly tell the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) much more effectually than my paint. They are a marvelous mystery, but still I am constantly compelled to capture them on canvas." 

Amy studied at VCU's School of the Arts, receiving her BA in Communication Arts. Now she lives in Midlothian with her husband, Mark, and dog, Theo. She paints full-time both on location and in her home studio. While subject matter can vary, she is drawn to paint the light as it interacts with the land. Her artwork often includes a hint of man-made structures settled among the natural world - a house, a figure, a pathway. Amy's paintings attempt to depict both man and land as equally subject to the effects of the sun's light and earth's atmosphere.

James River Rocks
18x24, oil

Rushing Waters
11x14, oil

Sun Drenched
6x8, oil

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Winter Hues" 16x20, oil

Winter Hues
16x20, oil

I created a smaller painting of this scene earlier in the year with the thought to do a larger work. The smaller painting was titled "Old Friend" because it was a recreation of the view you see as you drive across the Powhite Parkway Bridge over the James River.

This was one of the first to sell in my "Waterways" show.

December 1, 2014 – February 2, 2015
For Art’s Sake Gallery
9770 Gayton Rd, Henrico, VA 23238
Opening reception: December 12, 5:00-8:00 pm

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Making Of: "Echoes of Mercy" 24x48, oil, Painting of the Nickel Bridge on the James River

While working on paintings for my show, I knew I wanted a few bigger ones, along with a good selection of small pieces.

See all 46 paintings in person:
Exhibit dates: Dec. 1, 2014 - Feb. 2, 2015
9770 Gayton Rd, Henrico, VA 23238
I started with this study:
"High Point" 
10x20, oil on canvas
 View of the Nickel Bridge over the James River from Riverside Drive
Richmond, Virginia

I really enjoyed the process of painting the small one, especially the sky and the foreground trees. Getting the bridge at the right angle and in a straight line was tricky. As the last bits of the smaller painting were coming together I got an itch to turn it into a larger painting.

Enter the 4 foot canvas:
Above is the under-painting in alizarin and burnt umber.

I need to invest in a "big girl" easel, instead of spending so much time playing with wing nuts and levels on these tripod easels.

First step: the sky

Next: middle-ground

Not pictured: The step when I added the foreground trees and the 3-4 times I repainted them and the middle ground/river/Nickel Bridge.

"Echoes of Mercy"
24x48, oil on canvas
  View of Richmond's Nickel Bridge over the James River from Riverside Drive.
Richmond, Virginia

It was a challenge to get this painting properly exposed in a photograph. I might tweak the levels a bit more and repost later... Really, you gotta go see it in person. ;) It will be available at For Art's Sake Gallery during December 2014-January 2015.

Detail image:
Detail image:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sun Spangled River, 18x48, oil

Another one for my upcoming show "Waterways"
Exhibit dates: Dec. 1, 2014 - Feb. 2, 2015
9770 Gayton Rd, Henrico, VA 23238

Sun Spangled River
Pony Pasture, Richmond, VA
18x24 each, oil on canvas

The two above are the "big brother" of a diptych I posted a week or so ago.

6x10 each, oil on panel

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How to Title a Painting, Pt. 2

How to Title a Painting, Part 2

Missed Part 1? Here's the link.

 Note: This painting is part of a series for my upcoming show, "Waterways".
9770 Gayton Rd, Henrico, VA 23238
Exhibit dates: Dec. 1, 2014 - Feb. 2, 2015

 Can't wait to share more of the paintings with you!

View of the James River from the Belle Isle suspension bridge
18x24, oil

I could have named this "spring evening" or "view of the river from the suspension bridge" or something like that. Why "Contentment"? At times -- actually, at all times -- the things I am going through in my life spill over into my artwork. I have been reading verses in the Bible on trusting God and casting anxieties on Him.  I want to be better at dealing with my circumstances in a manner that acknowledges the truth: I am not in control, God is in control and He uses "bad" and difficult circumstances for my good, to grow my character, draw me closer to Himself, or make me love Him more and this world less. 

While working on this painting I was thinking about Philippians 4:11b-13.

The apostle Paul writes:  "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

I felt the colors and lighting in this painting expressed to me a quietness and trust, hence "Contentment". I wonder if it communicates contentment to you as well...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to title a painting and Paintings of Bellevue, Richmond, VA

If you were to paint a scene on Chevy Chase Street, what would YOU title it?

I decided to look up titles of films starring Mr. Chase as I was brainstorming for a title. Sure beats something like, "Yellow House" or "Tree Lined Road". I tend toward Capt. Obvious when it comes to titling my work.

"Seems Like Old Times"
9x12, oil
Available at Stir Crazy Cafe November 2014
4015 MacArthur Ave, Richmond, VA 23227

I haven't actually seen this film. But I wasn't about to name the painting "Christmas Vacation" or "Three Amigos".

Have you seen "Seems Like Old Times"? Worth a watch?

"Cindy's Garden"
20x10, oil
Available at Stir Crazy Cafe November 2014
4015 MacArthur Ave, Richmond, VA 23227

Leaning toward Capt Obvi in this title. Hey, it sure beats "Blue House" or "Red Chair and Wheel Barrow". Cindy was the lovely lady who welcomed us (artists from the VPAP group) into her backyard. I actually painted a different painting while on location that morning. It was June and it was hot and muggy. The painting didn't turn out so great. Win some lose some. Right after I finished I wanted to paint this direct shot of the back of Cindy's house. Unfortunately the sun had risen and there was no shaded spot to set up and paint this angle. Took a few photos and composed this painting in my air conditioned studio.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The simpler the better

If you followed me on Facebook or Instagram last summer you'll remember the time I painted these waterfalls.

It was such a thrilling thing to paint, but my painting didn't turn out well. It was really a case of sensory overload. A painting needs focus to communicate the feeling of a place. In this case everything was so beautiful and I didn't focus on one particular aspect of the place to focus my painting.

Back in the studio, with my memory, the failed painting from that day and a few reference photos I was better able to construct a painting that communicated (1) scale and (2) the cascading falls.

I arranged the painting into a light area (in the center) and a dark area (surrounding). I minimized the contrast in value in those major shapes and GREATLY simplified the edges where the dark met the light.  I also prepared a board with an aspect ratio better suited to eliminate extraneous information (i.e. the water in the foreground, the sky in the background).

Swallow Falls
5x8, oil on board


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pony Pasture Diptych from Summer

I wanted to paint a diptych on two panels. A few strategically placed stapes and success!

Now comes the decision to frame each panel separately or together in one frame.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One from last week at Fine Creek in Powhatan

I had a wonderful morning before some rain last week painting at The Mill at Fine Creek, a gorgeous wedding and special event venue in Powhatan, VA. You can see some of the stone structures that perhaps supported various parts of the gristmill.

So many potential paintings at Fine Creek, but this particular set of lines and shapes caught my eye.

I might have embellished the amount of yellow in that tree bough. 

Autumn's First Branches
8x10, oil

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sun Swept - 12x24, oil

"Sun Swept"
Summer - James River at Pony Pasture
12x24, oil

I mentioned I would be painting the James in every season. Stay tuned for more from spring, summer, fall and winter!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Huguenot Flatwater - From small to large

Huguenot Flatwater
6x8, oil

I created this little painting one morning this summer. It seemed to capture the feel of summer on the James. Back in the studio it grew up into a larger piece - 18x24 inches. Worked on the "hazy day" feel as well as creating more of the illusion of distance just as the river bends.

Was hoping to include this piece in my upcoming show at For Art's Sake Gallery in December-January, but the gallery owner found a home for it right after I finished it.

More paintings of featuring the James River in all the different seasons of the year to come!

Huguenot Flatwater
18x24, oil

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lily Pads on Walton Lake, 6x10

Lily Pads on Walton Lake
6x10, oil on board
Available at Gallery Flux

I've posted this one before, while it was still on the easel.

Two people mentioned it reminded them of Chuck Larivey, which is quite an honor. However, it's only because of the subject matter. He is famous for his water lilies.

Maybe I was hoping for a mention of -- well -- Monet

Just kidding!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Morning, Sunshine" 9x12

Morning, Sunshine
9x12, oil

I've always thought I liked painting the hues of the winter evening sky the best, especially the deep, deep dusky blue. Must say, this summer may have changed my mind. The warmth of the light, especially on this morning in early August, was just delicious. It felt so hopeful, so reassuring.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?"
Psalm 27:1

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


"It is Well"
7x9, oil on canvas 

There is nothing like the passing of a human life in effectively re-centering priorities. It is a beautiful time, yet much less productive time, at least in tangible things. Not as many checks next to the items on my to-do list. My thoughts have been less focused on painting, especially blogging. Days and evenings have been spent with people who need the company. There have been more phone calls, more focused attention on people, more time in prayer.

But for me, there is no such thing as a "work-life balance". My life informs my work. My work is often meditation on life.

This life is so transient. Painting the sunrise will teach you.... As will the passing of a loved one.

You can send cards on birthdays, sit through the family dinners be there in body, know a person in fact and miss knowing their soul. (I don't say this because I have regrets with Cathy's life. I don't have any. I say this because there are others in my world into which I don't currently invest heart and soul.)

You can take a thousand photos of the sun as its rays reach over the horizon and transform the morning into another world. You can know how to mix a deep sky blue or the color of a tree  in the shadows. You can paint one hundred paintings and say "that was fun". You can look at a scene and recognize that it is beautiful. You can do all these and miss knowing the One who spoke those things into existence. This world is nothing but a whisper of the glory of His character, a reflection of His beauty, a glimpse of His love and a fragment of His power.

Words do no justice. Nor does my paint and brush. But I feel as George Herbert when he wrote of his poetry:

Hearken unto a Verser, who may chance
Rhyme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure.
A verse may find him, who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.

I hope that with my brush I can in a small way "turn delight into a sacrifice" for my viewers as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Evening Consolations" 8x8, oil

When the cares of my heart are many,
    your consolations cheer my soul.
Psalm 94:19
Evening Consolations
8x8, oil on canvas

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cathy Donahue

At the end of August my mother in law took a downturn in her health and passed away. She had been suffering with Multiple Sclerosis for almost two decades, but it still felt sudden.

Tuesdays were the days I normally spent time with her reading and quilting.

Miss her.

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels…Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.“ Proverbs 31:1, 28-30
       Catherine D. Donahue passed away peacefully in her home August 28, 2014 with family byher side – her loving husband, sons, daughter-in-law, as well as her devoted dog, Scout. She spent her last days surrounded by friends and heroically cared for by her husband, Jim, and care givers–-Monique, Sherry, Diana and Hilary.
       Cathy was born in Portsmith, Virginia. She was the second child of Henry and Norma Domme, and sister to Hank, Andy and Daniel. In high school she was voted “most likely to succeed”. She far surpassed the definition of success in every area of her life. Cathy graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Computer Systems, worked a successful 22-year career for the State’s Department of Information Technology as a Computer Systems Chief Engineer. She was an exceptional mother, raising two kind hearted and intelligent sons. She successfully won the hearts and affections of her husband of 39 years, her sons and daughter-in-law, Tim, Mark and Amy, as well as all who were privileged to know her. She was an active parishioner at Saint Gabriel’s Church and a beloved member of the WINGS group. She attained a Black Belt in Taekwondo at Gentle East Martial Arts even after a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 1993.
       Cathy’s greatest success may have been during the most difficult years of her battle with MS. She joyfully made the best of her circumstances, deeply inspiring everyone who met her. As the disease progressed, taking from her the ability to walk, use her hands, talk and even swallow, she kept up her hobbies – animals, quilting and reading. She laughed easily, never worried and had a smile that lit up the room.
       As her health declined, her valiant character shined brighter. Just as “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3b-4), Cathy’s faith and hope in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of her sins and the blessing of eternal life grew stronger.

 From her college days

This added:

Revelation 4

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. ...there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder... Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, ...Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’[b]
who was, and is, and is to come.”

 It was 1:20 am. Mark and I were with her. Cathy shed two tears and breathed her last as I read these words. It was a sweet time we had with her.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Clyde Kilby's Resolution & the Super Moon

I first heard about Clyde Kilby through a John Piper sermon. He then posted Kilby's 10 resolutions for mental health on his blog. There is something so refreshing to feeling small on a great big planet, in a great big universe, held together by an even greater and bigger God. It is a gulp of oxygen to the soul.

Here is the Clyde Kilby quote I mentioned in my Gallery Talk on Thursday:

At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

 I spent Saturday night feeling this so deeply. The night sky and the sunrise are especially potent reminders.

Super Moon, 6x8, oil

It wasn't the night of the fullest moon appearance, still just stunning!

Nocturnes are tricky. Incredibly fun, but tricky. I was painting by the light of the porch lights, but far enough away to be able to see around the corner of the house. You never quite know what colors you are really mixing and applying. 

The Change in the Sky

July 17, 2014, Deep Creek Lake, MD
6x6, oil 

First Lights
July 17, 2014, Deep Creek Lake, MD
6x6, oil

These were painted the same evening as the sky transformed minute by minute. It is amazing how quickly the colors change. By the time one color is mixed and applied it has morphed into another even more beautiful hue.

Oh, to paint the evening horizon. So difficult, so magnificent, so overwhelming... but so rewarding.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A few recent plein air paintings

Summer Reflections
 Swift Creek Reservoir
11x14, oil

Lilly pads on Walton Lake
6x10, oil

 The Matthew's Sunflower Field
11x14, oil

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gallery Talk and Opening Event! @ Gallery Flux, August 7th

You are invited!

Gallery Exhibition Opening for "Plein Air and Big Skies
August 7th 5:30-8pm @ Gallery Flux

I will be presenting a Gallery Talk at 6:00 pm, along with a pastel artist, Dan Michael, on the adventures of painting outdoors.

307 England St, Ashland, VA 23005
(804) 752-3540

I would love to see you there!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Starts with Why

Reflections of Indigo
6x8, oil

I had a conversation with my cousin while on vacation about my art career that triggered me to thinking about why I paint. Why I paint in the style that I do, why I paint the subject matter that I do, why I want to sell my paintings, increase exposure of my work, take commissions, etc. Why do I do everything I do?

My cousin Bryan recommended a book by Simon Sinek called "Starts With Why". You have probably heard of him and his message. He gave a fantastic TEDtalk with the same title.

The premise of his argument in the talk was that people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

I've always thought that I'm very clear on my Why. Because it's the same reason I do (or rather, want to do) everything in my life.

A couple days after talking with Bryan I read Psalm 27. Verse 4 is my Why.

"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple." Psalm 27:4

My personal why is "to behold the beauty of God every day and be amazed by His person, character and majesty."

Now I am just like everyone else. I am distracted by the to-do list, the phone calls and text messages, the people who need things of me, health issues, family issues, peripheral goals and "putting out fires" as they call it. After my conversation with Bryan I started writing a little every day about my Why. I was shocked to see how often I unconsciously switched into "How" and "What" mode. It proved to me that I need to focus my mind more each day, beyond 20 minutes of reading my Bible, on my "Why" for existence. The how's and what's will come naturally when I am clear on my Why.

While Simon Sinek's why for having a Why is to have a more successful business/career/life, my why for having a Why is this: It it what I was made for. I was made to behold God's beauty. I was made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (as states the Westminster Catechism). It is the very reason I exist. This reason was not chosen by me. It was woven into my soul by the One who brought me into existence in the first place.

I hate how easily I forget it. Those empty feelings, those feelings of dissatisfaction, those feelings of "if only ____ then everything will be right again" are really reminders from the Holy Spirit to return to my Why, my purpose. 

And this purpose, this Why, has everything to do with my artwork. If you don't mind, I'd like to write a little more about it and how it directs the How of my art-making and art selling in subsequent posts. Simon Sinek and my cousin Bryan were good reminders that this is something to be shared.

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