This 4’x3; painting was begun last fall, and then I was crowded out by the plants coming in for the winter. With the plants out on the deck for the summer, I’ve been back at it for awhile now and thought I’d post some progress picts.

Mount Arikaree and Arikaree Glacier are the subject of this painting. I’ve summited this 13 thousand foot peak more than 20 times. After the last ice age 10,000 years ago, the glacier retreated into its cirque. Glacial meltwater passes through the talus field to emerge on the low shoulder of the mountain with only 1 part per billion of sediment- some of the cleanest water imaginable. Colorado State University’s Alpine Research Center is based in this glacial watershed, and last year they predicted Arikaree Glacier would be gone by 2025, with the sister valley’s Arapaho Glacier meeting its end soon after. I was the protector of these glaciers and their watersheds from my 18th birthday though to my 30th; I kept individuals from leaving physical footprints and infecting the watershed with giardia, but all the billions of humanity’s footprints are stomping it into oblivion now. While painting I’m streaming interviews with arctic / antarctic scientists, biologists documenting the 6th Mass Extinction, investigative climate journalists, climate activists such as Extinction Rebellion, Dark Mountain poets and authors; keeping my head in the game of reality while memorializing the heart of the mountain, already so much smaller, and ever smaller, and gone. Climate Collapse is finally obvious in everyone’s back yard, and if your back yard is alpine wilderness, it is already over. There is a white-hot place in my mind now that wasn’t there in my patrol days, a spot the glaciers kept cool, and now with them dying- it is a strange inescapable light, an ultraviolet long wavelength, a wave form of oblivion.

This is the underpainting combined with blocked in color from last fall, just a few layers along. Before any painting, I had to create the “canvas”- MDF sanded and primed, and a new hanging system using a French Cleat on the back ( I may go back through my other large paintings and retrofit them with French Cleats as well).
Acrylics allow opacity or thin transparent washes, so I’m going back and forth a bit with bold areas of saturated color followed with multiple transparent washes to tone and shift.
Eventually I hope it will feel as if the sun is setting far below us, shining back up to the mountain- creating the indigo/violet/magenta spectrum that can’t be seen on any other solid object save a high mountain at sunset/sunrise. Unless you are there seeing it, it will seem impossible and even fake- however within the large field of this painting I am pushing and pulling with value/intensity/saturation and hot/cold contrasts trying to find an immersion that allows the odd sensation of being there in that strange light. These pure colors are invisible to the eye in the white light of day, and occur only when the sun has already set and is long past the horizon for all the lower elevations, allowing these wavelengths of light that vibrate on the extreme ends of the visible spectrum to reveal themselves with a clarity that stuns the imagination. Still a long way to go…


Broad Canyon Fire:#2  24″ x 48″ Acrylic on Panel. 2016

The first Broad Canyon Fire painting was dark and had the sun in it; this one glows with sunlight but does not have the sun. This image views the fire from the side, while the former is a view of the fire just before passing through/under it. This was the logical companion/complement to the original painting, and a strong enough choice to stand with the original work. It may be that these two works are as far as this series can go and retain pure authority to the subject and themselves and each other. Each must have its own necessity or it becomes derivative.

The artspeak is likely just an attempt to be able to quit, as the process of transparent washes and semi-opaque layering is burning through my creative patience; i.e. this takes forever and requires allowing the painting to pass through many stages of layering to build to where it finally comes together- and it is difficult to keep this all in balance and not lose focus on the whole for the parts for the days-long processes to effect a subtle change upon a subtle change to move the work along. Yet global warming says I’ll have the full sunroom for awhile yet before I have to move the trees and plants back in off the deck, and so the theme of beautiful armageddon under the global warming sun can push me further than I would like as well…plus, they are really something in real life and my love/hate of the process may just have to suck it up as this is about making Art. The finished paintings have a life of their own, which is rare; and respecting this is an artist’s responsibility to work toward the quiet and invisible thread of direction that seems to bring itself into being.


Broad Canyon Fire. Acrylic. 24″x48″


some sense of the perspective; near = fire/sunlit crazy smoke you are about to pass under, far is miles and miles of smoke heading to distant mountains.

Redo of the last post with an image 5x denser; the sun is now red and the vaseline view is clarified.

This is ten days of painting, but who’s counting…


Broad Canyon Fire. 24″x48″  Acrylic

This image is way off, yet it links to facebook with all the colors correct and it is correct in the blog upload library. All other versions I’ve brought into the library are similarly off when selected for display. For one, the sun should be glowing crimson; and everything else you can guess is way off from there. Second- blurry / vaseline smeared. Hardly worth putting it up.

Version 2

Bluebirding Storm on easel.

On a late afternoon bluebird house expedition (house is just left of center) this storm brewed up over the mountains and shot out a large arm reaching over the ranch to blot out the sun. Rain misted the air under the vast arm turning the sky beneath it a brilliant gold, while a premature twilight of the cloud’s shadow swept the landscape. The breeze fell away and the stillness was broken by the booming of thunder resonating from beyond the horizon.

It was a landscape that challenged me to paint the mood of it, and after spinning in pre-art miasma for a few weeks I finally toughened up and got to painting. The painting is in acrylic and 12″x48″, a new format for my work as my new camera has a panoramic feature. This brings a whole new challenge, as the light changes dramatically across the expanse.


Bluebirding Storm


Morning Glory Natural Bridge. Acrylic on board. 32″x49″ 2015 (with some final tweaks yesterday)

After nearly a year of hanging on the wall, problem areas and fixes amassed and I set up the easel and went back into it. Now the yellow wall on the L recedes from the central bridge, the central form of the tree is warmed a bit tying it to the sandstone as it had drifted too far into the realm of the sky, and subtle tweaks to how the stone forms meet the edge of the picture plane at the top of the composition to project the mass out and overhead. Also, I wanted to reshoot it with my new/used camera: a Sony NEX-7. My old first digital camera (2007) was killed by the airlines on the flight to KS for Xmas, and Wichita has a great used camera store= Santa-self says: Merry Xmas art nerd, now you can take great pictures of your mediocre little hobby.


As glazing layers build the overall values tend to darken and homogenize. There are rumors of painters who don’t have to rebuild their lighter tones, but they may just be monsterous fairytales.


Over-darkened and over-saturated with glaze. An in-between step that I’d hoped was my final step, but then wasn’t.


Today was back at Morning Glory Bridge. The tree gained dimensionality, and I put some atmosphere between the left yellow wall and the bridge, and between the bridge and the tree.


“Before” The changes are subtle, and maybe don’t quite punch up via photograph…


shadowed branches against sunlit stone


Bounced glow on stones, with direct and indirect light on the tree.

I reworked all of my oil paintings in the Proscenium Series (see sidebar for original Proscenium Series, new images are not uploaded yet) of landscapes, after looking into glazing technique online. I had never been quite happy with how they came out, and glazing was a method I had never used. In researching it online I also came across new clear acrylic media, (new to the market in the past few years), that can be mixed with acrylic colors to layer up glazes. After reworking the oil paintings and liking what occurred, I headed out to the art store for the new acrylic media. The problem with acrylics revolve around losing cohesion of the binder if mixed with too much water when trying to mix a thin glaze, and of course, that it dries extremely quickly. There were extenders on the market, that keep the paint wet longer, but thinning it out would still break the paint’s ability to cohere, flow, and hold pigment. Now there is an extender with acrylic media as well as an acrylic thinner for airbrush. When mixed together these two media replace the use of water and allow thin color glazing. It works quite a bit like oil glazing. I had hoped to be able to have a watercolor-like response, and I experimented above the cumulonimbus in the layered storm front- laying down the painting flat I brushed in areas of wet color and misted water over it with a spray bottle, then dabbing back in with a brush, and locked it in with a blow dryer. There is possibility there for further play.

I reworked all 4 of the Entropy Bale paintings (see sidebar Bale to see them prior to glazing), the Bandalier scene below, and have 3 more big works from the last few months to revisit.


Thin glazing with acrylics brought new life to the clouds and color balance to the desert. At last.


This was how I left it prior to glazing- the yellow ground is mostly a product of the photograph.


The cumulonimbus now roll out from under the front, and their shadows dapple the landscape.


This before image shows how a level of cartoonishness has been overcome.


I need to set up for taking real images of these paintings, but for now we get to see them on the wall in different light- which makes for completely different hues from this image to the next (bale close-up).


Glazing up thin layers of transparent color allows modification of the background into multiple layers, and brings complexity and harmony to tonal areas. It also brought a better sense of mass to the bale.


This was the first big bale painting from back in 2009. I started working glazes with it, as it was the weakest of the series. It had been in a back hallway, but now hangs with the others and holds its own. All four bale paintings have been re-worked.