Monday, July 20, 2009


6x8 inch original oil painting

For purchasing details, email me at

In response to many requests for more step-by-step demonstrations of plein air painting, I invite you once again to look over my shoulder as I work. This piece was painted high in the mountains near Big Bear in the late afternoon. The golden-orange sunlight turned the pines a ruddy brownish green that I wanted to capture.

I knew these lighting effects were very temporary. So rather than take time to set up the full-sized easel I normally use in my TV shows and Plein Air workshops, I used the $20 pochade box from my CD “PLEIN AIR PAINTING MADE EASY.” It is entirely self-contained and holds a fresh panel, a wet palette of paints and my dipper cup. There is no setup time; I merely open the paintbox and I’m ready to go.

Using a diluted wash of ochre I sketched the composition, then quickly blocked in the darkest darks using a mix of cadmium red and ultramarine blue. I also indicated foreground shadows with a transparent wash of the same colors, emphasizing blue in the mixture.

The next step was the most critical. I “captured the fugitives” (elements that are likely to escape while I’m painting). In this case it was the colors of the pines, sky and distant mountain (step 3). By carefully placing these important color notes at the point where they intersected in the painting I was able to evaluate whether they worked well together. This was a key to colors throughout the painting.

Then I could proceed with confidence. As I worked I echoed key colors throughout the panel for color continuity and paid special attention to little touches of magic that charm the eye; details like carefully placed tree trunks and limbs, interesting edge treatment, etc. These factors keep a painting interesting over the years, and keep collectors coming back for more of these little treasures.

One of the key factors in a successful long term career as a fine artist is to keep collectors happy (no, make that THRILLED) with your work.

Paint first of all for yourself. Paint from the heart, whatever excites or moves your spirit. But only let collectors have your best work. This will reflect well on you and help create a large and loyal following.

I sell small paintings like this to enable new collectors to sample my work at affordable prices. Many times it leads to commissions. And when I accept a commission, I always deliver my VERY highest quality of work. And I always deliver in a timely manner.

If you want to keep collectors happy, you must paint from your soul. Paint what you love. Only then will your work thrill, excite and delight collectors. And in the end, you will both be happy.

Hope you like this short lesson. Let me hear from you if you found it helpful or interesting.

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Blogger Daily Paintings said...

Another great painting...enjoy looking at the sequence of how the painting developed...thanks for sharing it!

7:31 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Tom - I enjoyed reading your career tip!

7:58 PM  
Blogger VanDerHoekArt said...

I love the painting I won from your giveaway Tom, it's beautiful! I've posted it on my blog if you want to check it out.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Diana Moses Botkin said...

Thanks for the demo and the great advice for professional artists. I love the way you constantly share your gifts with others. Blessings.

10:36 PM  

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