Tag Archives: plein air painting

Old Oldsmobile from the Alley between 10th and 11th

This is an old derelict from the alley near my condo in Anchorage.  I used to drive an old Olds wagon and wanted to spend a little time appreciating this old relic.  I wonder if it even starts, probably not, even with a new battery.  They sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

Antique Oldsmobile Auto oil painting

An art print of this painting is available for sale at my online shop!  The original sold.

McCarthy AK Museum

antique cash register painting

This painting was created in McCarthy, Alaska’s lovely little museum.  I enjoyed volunteering at this small museum this summer, and will look forward to spending more days there next summer.  The day I decided to work on this painting of an antique cash register, was full of excitement.  Outside on the museum porch are a couple of relics left from the days before the footbridge, two hand-trams that were used to cross over the powerful Kennicott River.  Having arrived after the creation of the footbridge I can only imagine how isolating the hand-tram must have been.  Well, someone else must have had an active imagination as well, as I was painting away inside the museum, a great commotion occurred at the hand-tram.  A large fellow, 300+ lbs, sat down on the hand-tram and flipped it over; he had literally fallen and couldn’t get up!  Well, he asked Maria (my wife) to help him out of the contraption, but she obviously couldn’t budge him, I don’t know how she did it but Maria saved the day and the man was okay.  However the hand-tram exhibit had taken some wear and tear.  It is a good thing that the Museum carries an insurance policy because the hand tram is dangerous. I have smacked my head on it more than once and won’t sit down in it anymore.  We need a sign that says sit at your own risk…okay back to the painting.  I just love this Art Deco cash register and think about the goods that were purchased nearly a century ago.  It really was a long voyage from the steamship to the train, all the way to Kennicott!  This unique antique sure would have felt exotic in the Wrangell mountains, just look at that styling.  They don’t make stuff like this anymore.


anvil painting

If only I had an anvil like this, I would build myself a FORGE!  I am looking forward to the day I get my own anvil.  It is especially important to me as an object to paint because of work ethic it symbolizes to me.  This one is from the McCarthy Museum and I look forward to continuing with this series, the artifact series.  There is a beautiful Art Deco cash register that inspires me to paint.  Maybe there will be a later painting of it.  What is it about things from the past?  Why are older objects more stylized?  Why do Modern and Post Modern pieces lack any kind of style?  I feel that these oversimplified aesthetics are relying too heavily on mass appeal, while the older styles have more design value.  Here is a painting dedicated to the older style and to the symbol of work ethic.  Maybe I will bring back Art Nouveau and Art Deco as Neo-Art Deco-Nouveau…a revival, if you will.  I think it could make for some beautiful paintings…

McCarthy Museum deck, building, and rail car

mccarthy alaska museum deck painting

This year my wife and I decided to spend the entire summer in McCarthy, Alaska in the heart of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park!  We have a 10 acre lot on the south side of the town of McCarthy.  It was fun, but since we had yet to have built a building, I spent almost all my time outside in the fresh air.  Since this is a bit different than my usual life, I would jump at any chance to get some time under a roof (especially this summer as we have had so much rain).  I decided it would be nice to give back to the community, and get some inside time so I volunteered at the McCarthy Museum.  The Museum used to be open to the public without an attendant, however due to recent objects walking off without anyone to observe their departure, the board of directors decided it was imperative that an attendant be present.  I stepped up to the plate and volunteered several times this summer.  I painted this from the deck between the building and rail-car which houses the collections.  McCarthy and Kennecott have such rich histories although these settlements are only around 100 years old, aside from Nome, and Cordova, this is one of the oldest industrialized areas in Alaska.  It is extra special due to its rich history and well preserved artifacts.  It is especially interesting because the entire town shut down all at once when the Kennecott Mine closed.  What was once a bustling mining district became instant ghost towns.  The towns of McCarthy and Kennecott became devoid of life except for a few hardy hermits, pirates, and homesteaders.  Although the park has almost as many tourists and summer residents now as it had prospectors during the 20’s and 30’s, in the winter months the whole park just about shuts down except for a few hardy souls who winter over the dark and frozen months.  I love the McCarthy Museum and I enjoyed making this painting.  Later in the season, I gave it away as a birthday present to the notorious B-Mack, at his classic birthday party “The Endless BBQ.”  The Endless BBQ is an awesome party held every year, this year with great music by the Grannies and an amazing performance by a lady that goes by the name of Saucy Yoda.

Hiking to the Jumbo Mine in WSENP

jumbo mine alaska painting kennecott

Back from the Wrangell St. Elias National Park.  I painted some in the park this summer all plein air, as I was in the process of creating my indoor painting studio while I was there.  My wife and I had the most amazing summer camping out and building our little hut that will be a painting studio with a little sleeping loft.  One of the best experiences we had in the park was when we hiked to the Jumbo Mine.  This is the first and only time I have had the opportunity to climb up into this part of the Bonanza Ridge, to the ruins of the Jumbo Mine.  Not much left of the buildings and I decided to hike to the top of the ridge.  I was a little bit ahead of the others and sped quickly to the highest point under the cliffs on the ridge.  With a few minutes to spare as I was waiting for the crew, I painted this painting looking back towards the Chugach Mountains.  While on the ridge, I found lots of green rocks, (Chalcocite with Malachite) a whole vein up on the mountains!  It feels so great to be on the top of these amazing bodies of metal.  I was glad that I made it down with minimal damage to my painting.  Hiking 10+ miles with a plein air kit is not too difficult, but making it successfully home with a wet oil painting is more difficult that most people might imagine, so I always sigh a breath of relief when I get home successfully with a new plein air piece.

Truck and Fairbanks Park

chevy truck painting


Snowy park in Anchorage winter painting


The other day I was thinking that it would be nice to do a painting to commemorate the area where I live, the Southeast quadrant of Downtown Anchorage, specifically 11th and Eagle Street.  I painted the first painting of my pickup truck and building.  I was pretty happy because I was able in my painting to fix the damage I had done last summer when I was building the road into my lot in McCarthy, Alaska.  It was pretty funny because my wife had some concerns about me working out in the middle of the National Park without any supervision and although she had sent one of her best friends to keep an eye on me I still managed to crash the truck into a tree on the initial run down the driveway.  Oops… and even with a reliable spotter telling me okay very good, keep backing up… wait you are going to fast!  Oops now you are hitting a TREE!  So I fixed the dent in the painting and now we all won’t have to remember the horrible accident and broken mirror for all of eternity.  I really do love my truck and we just spent a bunch of money getting that door working smoothly again, although the dent still remains!

As for the second painting I decided to head a block down the road to Fairbanks Park, that is lovingly referred to as the Ghetto Park.  It has been on a very nice upswing ever since the city encompassed it with a large fence, prior to which, it was a den for the transient drinking population trying to make it from the Chester Creek Green Belt to the lively Anchorage bar scene.  Now the fence makes it nearly impossible to cross, especially if inebriated.  I figured I would hang out in the newly freed up space and get a glimpse of what this group of people had used as their private deck for a while.  I realized when the painting was completed it isn’t anything to write home about, just a bunch of power lines and trees blocking the good view anyhow…

A Day with “The High One”

denali mt mckinley alaska painting


denali mt mckinley alaska painting


denali mt mckinley alaska painting

It was a fun little excursion to Talkeetna yesterday, finally making it out of Anchorage around noon.  Stopping to pick up our friend Dani, and for some espresso, we made it to Talkeetna around 3:00 in the afternoon.  We, of course, made it to the Denali Brewery and were surprised to find very good craft brew!  We took our booty down to the River and sat around a makeshift fire for several hours taking in the view.  Here is what came of the painting effort.  Too bad I started to run out of white on the third one who would think there would be so much white in  Alaskan winter!  At least I am finally outside again and painting!

Visit to Eagle River Nature Trail

Alaska winter oil painting

This painting was done on April 5th, 2010 along the frozen Eagle River in Alaska.  Only fifteen minutes away from Anchorage, Eagle River is an interesting little place to spend the day.  Especially if you head up the mountain valley to the Eagle River nature center.  I decided to take a break from the humdrum bore of the town and headed out on an adventure to do a little plein air painting, even though it was pretty cloudy and bleak outside, it was above freezing allowing me to actually work outside! I hope you enjoy this little painting.

Older 2006 Painting…Alex Combs Painting Studio

Alex Combs studio halibut cove

I have been looking forward to the warmer weather that allows the outdoor painting season to begin, the snow and ice has been keeping me working inside and I am ready for summer to be here.  Nothing is as exciting, that I have run into, than the beauty of Alaska in the summer.  I cannot wait to paint in plein air!  However, I felt my blog could use a new image and update to keep everyone in the loop.  This painting was done over a 9 hour day in Halibut Cove a couple of summers ago.  Painting the frontal facade of Alex Combs old painting and pottery studio and outdoor gallery.  This structure has always had such a profound influence on me because of the uniqueness of a do-it-yourself gallery.  Not only was this a do-it-yourself gallery (put the cash/check in the jar – take your art) it was also full of Alex Combs’ cheery, painterly, work that I knew was Real Art!  Since my first visit out to Halibut Cove in 1998 I have found Alex Combs paintings to largely influence my work.  It was great to live and work in Alex’s old art spot.  From the paint on the floor of the studio, to the most incredible view of the cove, I love this structure.  I am eager to build my first structure to live and work in the beauty of this great state!  Part of the fun of working on this painting was that Alex, who passed away a year ago, was able to critique my work.  It was very satisfying to have one of my personal heroes of the art-world sit back and look at my work.  Suffering from mild alzheimer’s and dementia the last few years of his life Alex was still very excited about painting and was still working next door.  It was cute that every time I met him I had to be reintroduced as the painter next door.  Introductions aside, he could still critique a piece of original, Real Art!  Here’s to you Alex! Thank you for making such beautiful artwork and being such an inspiration!

Saguaro Painting at Rita and Jack’s House in Pheonix

This painting is of a saguaro cactus that lives in the front yard of Rita and Jack’s house in Phoenix, Arizona.  After working on South-West art for Arctic Circle Enterprises, it was a joy to do some fine art that exemplified the South-West theme.  I love the desert, especially in the winter.  It was a joy to go out golfing after painting this painting and feel the extreme warmth on the day before Thanksgiving.  I hope all of you have as much to be thankful for this year.  I know I am very thankful for my life and for the successful end of this leg of my tandem trip.  I think that life is good and hope yours is going as well as mine!