Tag Archives: Alaska landscape painting

Back to Canvas

Recently I started painting on canvas again.  Last year I had to build a giant painting (12ft x 6ft) for a clinic in Bethel, and decided it would be best to paint it on canvas, roll it up, then fly there to rebuild and re-stretch it.  I was pleased with the results.  The end product was quite different from the hardwood plywood panels, but I found it to be easier to put certain details into the painting.  The finishing work required to put a painting on the wall — framing or painting the sides, has always been a hurdle for me, and I remember one of my college professors praising my paintings, but criticizing my shoddy frames.  I often see paintings framed poorly, and I have striven since those early college failures to produce professional looking pieces.  I still have some of those old canvases rolled up, but fortunately I did away with the garish frames.  In my defense, I was framing them on the catwalk balcony at my dorm room, because the sculpture professor wouldn’t let me make frames in the state-of-the-art sculpture lab.

A finished canvas without a frame needs to have a full wrap so the edges may be painted.  I didn’t make canvases that way until I was taught how to do so in class.  Frames need to have a lip that covers the front edge of the painting so you don’t have a distracting gap.  Previously, I used to laminate a piece of hardwood to the edges of a painting and sand the edge back to make a finished looking box, which is impossible with canvas.  That also takes a ton of work, since I am without a wood-shop, just like in the old dorm-room days.  Operating a table saw and a chop saw outside in the snow and 10 degrees is not my idea of fun.  Nobody ever told me being an artist was going to be easy.  In fact, I was told a successful artist works harder than most people.  I don’t know how hard I actually work, but I do seem to always be out of time.  I don’t really like power sanding, so I ordered a case of professional grade canvases.  I’ll give them a try and maybe I can just paint the edges and skip that snowy outdoor time with the annoying power-tools.

Painting on a canvas is completely different than the techniques I have been using on the hardwood panels.  My gold and red underpainting doesn’t work the same, so I have gone back to a traditional painting technique I haven’t used in a decade.  I was always about getting the colors to scream on the surface, but I am now more interested in getting a more accurate depiction.  I am now making an underpainting that represents the grayscale values, and not the primary colors I always used previously, which makes me like using canvas way more.  Canvas paintings reproduce better as canvas prints, since it is the same material used to begin with.  The gold and red painting surface that I have been using, looks great as an original, but always misses a bit as a reproduction.  I am switching over for completely practical reasons.  It seems very few people purchase original paintings.  I sell 20, or more prints and then maybe one original.  Even though my originals are pretty affordable, and I price my prints a bit higher than average.

Painting on canvas takes more time as I am forced to work with layering techniques.  The alla-prima technique looks lackluster without the red and gold underpainting.  It is necessary to build up layers to completely cover the canvas and fill in the little white spots that form around painted objects.  This takes more time and requires mixing mediums.  I will probably have to charge more for originals, since it takes way longer to make canvas paintings.  I originally started painting on the red and gold panels because it worked so well in a Plein Air (outdoors painting) environment.  I could start and finish a painting before it started to rain, or the sun moved too far, changing the shadows.  I was also making smaller pieces.  Are the red and gold panels to be retired forever?  Of course not!  I will still make some pieces using my signature technique, but I also have bought two large canvases and want to see where these traditional materials lead me.

The underpainting with grayscale values.

Close to being finished, just needs a few more details.

The large 5ft x 4ft canvas that I’ll be painting soon. Just need to figure out what to paint. I have two of these.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 184

I hope you are getting jazzed about the Fourth of July!  Everybody out dip-netting at Kasilof was getting psyched up!  Oh man, I survived the icy cold river, the slippery dangerous mud under my boots, the current, and even the beer drinking!  Between Maria and I, we hauled in 20 Sockeyes!  It started getting really crowded yesterday evening as everyone was getting there for the Fourth.

Today’s beer painting is of Second Hand Smoke Stout by Midnight Sun Brewing Company, depicted on the beach in Kasilof!  I painted this one right on the beach during a break from fishing.  I don’t smoke tobacco, but I smelled some while fishing… second-hand.  The majority of the smoke was coming from beach fires!  Seems that driftwood burns a little smokier than dried firewood, so I noticed it even more.

The Second Hand Smoke is a beer made from the second runnings of Bar Fly Imperial Stout.  It tastes way smokier than Bar Fly, probably because it wasn’t aged in oak barrels.  It is also lacking the syrup-like thickness and is more what you would expect from a big bold beer.  This beer is no joke at 8.4%.  Bitter and peaty with a nice malt body that swirls through as you savor the flavor.  If I had never heard of Bar Fly I would probably go nuts over this beer, its little brother.  Sure is good, especially if you like a smoked beer!

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!  Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and this year I will be smoking my fish on Independence Day!  Today is the last day of my art show at MSBC!  Head in and have lunch at the Loft, this is the last time you may see this group of paintings.

You can purchase this painting, or a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.

View the complete Year of Beer Paintings gallery.

Beer Painting of second hand smoke by midnight sun brewing year of beer

Year of Beer 07.03. Second Hand Smoke Stout by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.

Returned from Wrangell St. Elias National Park

Hello all, I recently returned from my last trip to the Wrangell St. Elias National Park (McCarthy side) and I grabbed my paintings from my last trip out there.  I have a lot in the University Land subdivision on the Dan Creek road behind McCarthy.  I went up to the top of Bonanza Peak three weeks ago with my buddy Seamus and my favorite exchange student (FES) Hanif.  I dragged them up the mountain with me and it was a nine hour grueling ascent, after making these guys hang out improving my lot out there.  I did these two paintings on the hike, the first is from the old mining transfer station for the tramway, and the second is from the ridge-line of Bonanza peak.  There was only one injury as Seamus was subjected to a sprained ankle… bumdilly.  As for the most recent trip I have another work to show you but will have to wait for a few days as I left it with Jim Drewry, the parking lot attendant, as a tip.  My buddy Mud Hole Bailey took a pic of it and I will receive that photo tomorrow evening, so stay tuned to see it…  I painted today too, so look for a nice coastal trail piece looking at downtown Anchorage…   

Blackburn mountain painting


View of valley from Bonanza peak painting