Painting En Plein Air: Resolving the Landscape


While reading the July 2013 issue of Plein Air Magazine I saw and a full page ad for Thomas Kegler’s DVD, Painting En Plein Air: Resolving the Landscape.  The painting featured in the ad looked magnificent so I visited Kegler’s website and watched the 10 preview excerpts from his video.  I was sold before getting half way through the video clips.

I chose to purchase the digital download version.  The picture quality is excellent and looks great on my iMac.  So what about the content?  To quickly sum it up – this is one of the finest art instruction videos I have ever seen, and I highly recommend it.

Check out Kegler’s video clips.  And let me know your thoughts by posting your opinion here.

The Power of Notans

For those of you who have never heard the word “notan”, it is a Japanese word meaning “dark, light”.  Notan is best described as the design of a work of art as seen in flat areas of dark and light values only.

“A notan painting is a small, quickly executed monochrome painting that consists of simple shapes with a limited number of flat values,” says Barry John Raybould, owner of The Virtual Art Academy.

Notan Blog

The image above shows a few notan studies I created using a Tombow marker and a 6″ x 8″ Strathmore Drawing pad.  I used a #15 Tombow for the darks, and the white of the paper for the lights.


I took this photo of a road close to my home in the winter of 2010.


A few days later I executed this notan painting from the photo in just a couple of minutes. This gave me a two-value study that was much easier and quicker to create than the value studies I had done in the past.

If you would like to do four-value notan studies I recommend using a Tombow #15 for the darks, a #65 for the dark mid-tones, a #75 for the light mid-tones, and the white of the paper for the lights.


Another photo I took the same day in the winter of 2010.


And another rapidly executed notan painting created from the photo above.  As crude as this little study may look, it achieves the goal of being able to quickly state your values in order to see if a good design has been established before beginning a painting.  By using this powerful technique you will know instantly whether you have a good composition or whether you should experiment with different compositions and ideas before proceeding to paint.

For more information about notans, check out the Notan Painting Lessons offered by The Virtual Art Academy.

The Turning Point in My Drawing Ability


I created the first drawing in 1997 from a photo of Tom Cruise. Then in 2004, after studying Lee Hammond’s book How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs (North Light Books, 1995), I rendered the second drawing of my brother, David.

Needless to say, Hammond’s book was responsible for a big turning point in my drawing ability. This lesson certainly opened up my eyes and reinforced my belief in the saying that “Knowledge is Power”.

Alex_97Lex Barker

Here are two more “before and after” examples.  The first one was drawn from a photograph of actress Kim Delaney in 1997. I drew the second portrait in 2007 from an image of Lex Barker, one of my favorite actors who played Tarzan.

Thank you, Lee Hammond, for sharing your knowledge with me and everyone else who reads your books.

A Step-By-Step Oil Painting Demo by George Gallo


Besides being one of today’s greatest master painters, George Gallo is also a screenwriter, director and producer. “Local Color”, which he wrote and directed, is a film about an aspiring young artist who befriends an elderly Russian Master.

Gallo will be featured in a new book by Cindy Salaski, “Oil Painting With the Masters: Essential Techniques from 20 of Today’s Top Artists”. The book will be published by F+W Media/North Light Books, and is scheduled for release in July 2014.

Click here to view George Gallo’s Step-By-Step Oil Painting Demonstration of The River in Winter.


On Becoming a Master by Barry John Raybould


The Road from Chailly to Fontainebleau – by Claude Monet

Each level in your personal development is a level of complexity that you need to fully absorb and integrate into your thinking before you can proceed to the next level. If you try to skip a level and attempt to do too much too soon, it will only slow down your progress and create a lot of frustration.

You may be surprised to hear that the more you learn about painting, the harder it gets. The more experienced you become, the more effort and time it takes to get to the next level. In the words of Monet: “My painting…obsesses and torments me. I don’t know which way I’m going. One day I think I’m at work on a masterpiece, then it turns into a nothing. I fight, I fight on without making any headway. I believe I am seeking the impossible, but I’m filled with confidence.” Monet, 1888.

This is the wonderful thing about painting – there is always more to explore and learn about so you never get bored. We are all on a journey up a ladder that reaches to infinity. All we can aspire to in our lifetime is to climb a few rungs of the ladder. The lessons at the Virtual Art Academy will show you how.


Cancer Claims Life of Maggie Price


On April 4, 2013 Maggie Price passed away after a short battle with brain cancer. The New Mexico artist was the President of the International Association of Pastel Societies and the founding editor of the Pastel JournalShe was an accomplished artist, a dedicated pastel workshop teacher, and an author for North Light Books.

The art world has lost a great friend and a wonderful pastel instructor. Maggie’s paintings can be viewed at Maggie Price Art.  To read the blog by Maggie and her husband, Bill Canright, visit the website Painting Partners.

Learn Oil Painting Techniques from the Great Masters of Today by Cindy Salaski

Presentation 2

My first book with F+W Media/North Light Books, tentatively titled Learn Oil Painting Techniques from the Great Masters of Today is scheduled for release in July 2014. The book will feature twenty of today’s top Master Oil Painters.

This book should appeal to not only beginning and intermediate artists, but advanced artists as well. Ten step-by-step painting demonstrations along with twenty galleries filled with stunning landscape, portrait, and still life oil paintings should make this book a real treasure for both serious artists and art collectors.

The book cover shown is not the actual book cover, just a result of me playing around in Keynote. The actual book cover will be created by the professional designers at North Light Books, and the book will be in a vertical format not a horizontal one as shown above.