Welcome! This online journal will share my news of new paintings and upcoming exhibits, tips and notes with friends, collectors and other artists. Please visit often and enjoy!

Copyright notice: Photos and artwork images herein are property of the artist; no reproductions allowed without written consent.

Coming soon to this page:

- Latest sketches

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mountain Town Best Buddies

Mountain Town Best Buddies

It was very satisfying to work on this painting of a back alley in the mountain town of Silverton, Colorado. A couple of weeks ago I pulled out the black and white print and the pencil sketch I had done a couple of years back. Several times before I had put them away not know exactly what to do with it, but I now spent some time remembering the light and atmosphere of the day, thinking through some of the challenges, and then proceeded to paint quickly to my plan, without any struggles.

I wanted to keep the detail to a minimum, just suggested, and I wanted to celebrate the simple joys of small town life, the quiet and piece that allow people to enjoy friendship, and I believe the painting suggests those themes well. I like the path of light, and the frame within a frame composition formed by the dark wall, the shadow and the pole.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Outdoor Creations Opening Reception

Standing Apart, watercolor on paper, 9x12

The Outdoor Creations exhibit opened last night with a nice reception and great turnout. For most of the evening the Great Frame Up gallery was packed with artists, guests and public in general. I had the opportunity to view the show with my wife and a number of our friends and to talk to a lot of the artists. Congratulations to the Boulder County Open Spaces and Parks organization for the successful event.

As an added surprise, my painting of a farm scene in Hygiene (a piece of land owned by open spaces), called "Standing Apart" won an honorable mention (see image above).

This piece was completed in two sessions: The first morning I set up, did my thumbnail sketch and pencil drawing, and after the first background washes, the wind picked up and almost took my paper block flying, and then it started raining. So I had to return the next day to finish the work, the cows were gone and the weather different, but I had enough information from the first day to complete the painting. I was pleased with it and it was the first piece I chose to enter in the show, so I am very glad it got acknowledged by the selection jurors and award juror.

After the reception, Christina and I (next to my four paintings in the photo above) went out with our friends to celebrate with dinner, drinks and dancing. Not a bad evening!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Demo on Aquabord at the Longmont Artists' Guild

Marcio's demonstration at the LAG meeting
(photo courtesy of Yvonne Ogg)

Last night, the Longmont Artists' Guild held its first meeting after the summer hiatus, and I had the honor to be Guest Artist. For my demonstration, I chose to do a piece on Aquabord panel, size 20x16. I used a variety of mop, flat and round brushes, and mostly Daniel Smith paints on this demo: Permanent orange, cobalt teal blue, manganese violet, french ultramarine, quinacridone burnt scarlet.

I was able to advance it only to half completion, not as much due to the time limitation of an hour, and to the size of the board, but to my unwise decision to decline the offer of an overhead mirror. Having to maintain the board at a steep angle to allow the sitting audience to view the painting without glare, I struggled with paint runs and drips while painting very fast. Watercolor painting is always a partner dance, and I had to adapt my approach to conditions and persevere. I had to rework areas, work on smaller areas at a time, move from shape to shape to allow for drying time, etc. In the end, I was still able to give the attendees an idea of my method and style, and a sense of the benefits and challenges of this relatively new painting support.

The best part for me was indeed the interest and participation of the audience. They had questions on selection of paints, drawing strategy, choice of subject, materials and techniques used and avoided, and so on. Aquabord was indeed new to many, so I was pleased to share some information and tips, repeated here in summary:

  • Aquabord is a panel manufactured by Ampersand for use with watercolor, with a warm white, slightly textured surface made of kaolin, also known as China clay. Working on Aquabord is similar to doing fresco paintings.
  • Prior to use, it is important to "flush out" the air bubbles trapped in the clay, by brushing or sponging the entire surface with a good amount of clean water.
  • The surface texture is equivalent to cold press paper, but the clay is more abrasive than paper, so the use of expensive and delicate brushes is not recommended. I use older squirrel mops, or synthetic brushes on it instead.
  • Aquabord is more absorbent than watercolor paper and paint dries fast on it. To me, it makes it harder to achieve large, smooth washes than on paper. But when working at an angle, there is less beading, and more runs than what you experience with watercolor paper.
  • It is very easy to lift paint from Aquabord, which means you can correct errors easily by lifting slightly or back to white. You can actually remove an unsuccessful painting altogether and start from scratch. But it also means that you have to be careful when applying new layers of paint--if your brush is stiff or if you rub too hard, you may unintentionally lift the previous layer. I like that this feature allows me to mix with a previous layer, or correct a drip or run, by applying a different color on top of it and mixing the two with the friction of the brush. 
  • Painting on a panel is more convenient than stretching paper to avoid buckling, particular helpful for outdoor work, but panels are heavier than paper to carry.  
  • Aquabord is versatile. Colors are very vibrant on it, as you can see in the works of Karen Vernon. It is great for Wyeth-like dry brush realistic technique. Ali Cavanaugh does beautiful, detailed portrait work on this surface. Stephen Quiller uses it with acrylic paints.
  • Paintings on Aquabord can be varnished and framed without glass. The Ampersand website has recommendations of varnishes to use. I use spray varnish--Krylon crystal clear acrylic coating, then thin coats of Krylon UV archival varnish mat and gloss in alternation (matte removes glare but too much can deaden the colors; gloss enhances colors, but produces glare).
  • Aquaboard panels cost more than the equivalent size paper, but the added cost can be offset by savings in framing, as neither backing board, mats or glass are necessary.
  • Most watercolor societies do not accept paintings on Aquabord in their main water media exhibits.
Many thanks to the LAG Board for the opportunity to share my work!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Outdoor Creations 2014

Prayer to the Fallen, watercolor on paper, 12x9

The four paintings I completed on site this summer for submission to the Outdoor Creations exhibition have been selected for the show! This juried en plein air exhibit is promoted by Boulder County to celebrate its parks and open spaces.

It was a joy to create these pieces, and I am very happy to able to share my view and interpretation of these magnificent places which, in the nearly 18 years I have lived in Boulder County, have served me well for relaxation, exercise and for inspiration. As an artist, my hope is that the deep connection and admiration I feel for our open spaces come through to the viewer of each of my paintings, that I do some justice to their beauty and may help our community not to take their value for granted.   

The Outdoor Creations exhibit will run from October 10 through November 8 2014, at the Great Frame Up gallery at 430 Main Street in Longmont. The opening reception will be October 10, from 6 to 9 pm.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thomas Schaller Workshop

Pier Light, watercolor on paper, 18x12

I nearly missed the opportunity to attend Thomas Schaller's workshop in Denver last week, as this was a very busy time at work. But thanks to my wife's encouragement and support I worked alternative times and made it to the classes, and it was well worth the trouble. Schaller's talent and intelligence are inspiring and it is easy to see why he has become a star in the watercolor world.

Tom emphasized in his demos and instruction the need to go beyond mere beauty and to look for the Art in the subject. For him, that means to look for and capture the light in the scene, and to use design to add a time dimension to the "story" he seeks to tell. I imagine this explains his interest in bridges, rivers, streets and roads, all of which convey a visual and psychological expectation of movement through the pictorial space.

From this initial concept and a tonal value sketch, he builds his painting with very wet washes, using bright color and bold brushstrokes to maintain a look of spontaneity and freshness. He is careful to connect elements throughout the image, and to "listen" to the painting to avoid overworking. His approach is both simple and sophisticated, and at the same time advanced in vision and traditional in technique.

Tom took on some challenging material for his demos, and showed his ability to problem solve. He was brave to take the entire class to paint en plein air on the second day in very warm weather, but everyone enjoyed the experience.

The pieces I did during the workshop turned out well, immediate and spontaneous, fueled no doubt by Tom's reminders to all of us to simplify, to stay in the moment, to remember to breathe to avoid tightness. This was exactly the advice I needed at this point, so this was both fun and beneficial.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Red River Watercolor Society Signature Membership

I am just back from a road trip with my family through the Dakotas, including a visit to Medora in the Badlands National Park and a paddling competition in the Sheyenne River.

I was also able to visit the excellent Red River Watercolor Society 2014 National Exhibit at the Hiemkomst Center in Moorhead, MN, just before it closed. This was a very significant exhibit for me: My painting Twin Elevators (26x20 watercolor on Yupo, shown above) was selected for the show by juror Michael Reardon and received the Jack Richeson Award. But more importantly, I am very proud to have achieved Signature Membership in the RRWS with my third acceptance into their National exhibit.

The RRWS is based in the Fargo/Moorhead area but has members from all over the country. They boast a high caliber of workshop instructors and exhibit jurors, and a great number of top level water media artists who participate in their annual shows.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Plein Air Marathon

We had a great day at the PAAC Plein Air Marathon last saturday. We started at sunrise and covered five different locations through the day, in Longmont, Niwot and Boulder. 

I had to fullfil my national civic duty to watch Brazil play at the World Cup, so I did not paint in one of the sites... but was happy with the four paintings I managed to complete.

It was my first marathon and a great experience... Fun but also very tiring, especially on such a warm day. There were 27 participants from several areas of the State and it was a pleasure to meet everyone and appreciate their work. My wife and children joined the closing get together as well. I definitely look forward to next time. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Award at the CWS State Watercolor Exhibit

We had a wonderful State Exhibit opening reception on March 7th. Many people braved the snow to join the event, and enjoy the music, the food, the relaxed atmosphere and the great art in the exhibit.

During the awards ceremony, I had the pleasure to receive the Stephen Quiller Award from juror Carl Dalio (moment shown in the photo above) for my painting The Baker and his Shop. (Thanks to Stephen Quiller for the donation that made this award possible.) The high quality of all the artwork in the show, my respect for the juror and my admiration of Quiller all make this award pretty special.

The exhibition is open until the 30th, at the Lone Tree Arts Center in Lone Tree, Colorado, and I hope many more people have a chance to visit it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

CWS 2014 State Exhibit Opening Reception

The Baker and His Shop, watercolor on paper, 12x18

The 2014 State Exhibit organized by the Colorado Watercolor Society opens on March 4th. This is a great display of works by many of the best water media artists in the State. I am proud to have a painting selected for the show by juror Carl Dalio--I hold his opinion and critique in high regard.

The opening reception and award ceremony will be Friday, March 7th, from 5:30 to 7:30, at the Lone Tree Arts Center in Lone Tree, Colorado. A great chance to meet the juror and the exhibiting artists. The exhibit is free to the public and will remain open until March 30th.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Another from the Sketch Pad

Here is another study done without any pencil drawing on my 9x12 sketch pad. Using only planning marks made with a brush is very different from painting over a full sketch; it is not unlike painting in oils. I had used this approach before, but only in plein air and not in a series, as an exercise. I have been enjoying the challenge this represents--I have to pay much more attention to the placement of shapes of color, rather than the shapes of objects in the scene. Precision suffers, but there is a more painterly feel to it. (The photo is not great--taken with my iphone)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Snow and Mud

When nature offers you snow and mud, that is what you paint. With the chilly temperatures and limited time, plein air work gets done from the coffee shop window or from the car seat. In this case, I did a studio study but wanted to keep a plein air feel to it. To accomplish that I worked without a pencil sketch and painted fast using the same brush for most marks, and kept to a small size, 8x10.

There is a lot of construction going on near my house; I enjoy when the weather slows it down, and I think the shape and color of the machines form such an interesting contrast to the open space and mountains.
Tomorrow, a visit to the Passport to Paris exhibit at the Denver Art Museum!