McFarlane in the Spring

Spring at the FarmNearly two years ago I was looking for places to paint and ended up at McFarlane Park in Cobb County. Since then I’ve spent many sessions recording how this quiet unspoiled landscape looks at all times of the year. With spring in full bloom and a show planned for October I went back over to this farm park to see how it looked. I was greeted by a mix of flowering trees, red bud, dogwood and cheery all in their prime.

I was attracted to the red bud, a wispy dark barked tree with intensely redish purple blooms. The white fences that surround the front acreage are quite wonderful and frame up views and accent others. I set up and worked on a view down a path to one of the out buildings, a stable like structure with white clapboard. Just a perfect bit of structure to ad to this colorful landscape. I worked on a 12 x15″ — an odd size but I love it. A bit bigger than 9 x12 and little more square, Just about everything I do this size works. The problem is framing it. I had one made at JFM with a linen mat and I used it in the Marietta show. I’ll need to buy several more before my shows in August and October.

McFarlaneDogwoodAfter about three hours on this view I set up a did a 9 x12 vertical of a magnificent dogwood on the property. I love dogwoods but struggle with them because they have  delicate bent limbs and are sparsely flowered. The lace like appearance is easy to cover up with too many booms. You have to be very careful to not overdue it. I’ve painted the one in my back yard many time and am still not satisfied. Later in the week I tried again on an evening after dinner. Still not sure this is successful—at least I’m aware of the problem.

TTwilight Dogwoodhe following weekend 4/11-13 I was back over to McFarlane on Friday morning with a old college friend Kathy Gray-Farthing who was in town for a Photoshop conference and had the morning off to paint with me. It was great to see her and we painted the same building from the opposite side. This time the forest floor was covered with a carpet of Blue Bells  and occasional Yellow Corn Flowers— Quite mesmerizing. I got a good start on it Friday but we had no sun so when the next day it was gloriously sunny and warm I went back over and put in some more hours on in.

This next weekend begins the Gwinnett Parks Plein Air Challenge, a show that I’ve participated in twice without finishing in the money. It’s a long drawn out affair that last all summer with four sessions at parks in Gwinnett culminating with a show and final    judging in September. With not much else going on locally I still was eager to give it another go. Lot’s of very good painters will be competing and a win would be a great achievement. We’ll see. I’ll post my first work from Alexander Park next week. Happy painting.



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Cobb/Marietta Museum Paint Out—Third time’s a charm

I’ve been doing plein air for about three years now, maybe just a bit longer. The third Marietta/Cobb Museum Paint Out was held this weekend. The museum is small but has a great staff and utilizes many volunteers. They have quite few exhibitions every year along with organized competitive shows one for all art including sculpture and photography called Metro Montage. The other is their plein air competition. This is the third time I’ve participated and I’ve finish third two years in a row.

If you’ve been following the blog you know I’ve been painting Marietta for the last few weeks in anticipation. I like these competitions, they bring out the best in me which is strange because I’m not an overly competitive person—as a rule. The night before I was on Google driving around the square and some of the neighborhoods finding possible spots to paint. I even did a few small drawings to work out some compositions. First prize was $150 —so not a lot + museum membership for a year. Well, I’m already a member. None-the-less I was very nervous the night before and hardly slept at all. Up at 6:15 I was at the museum by 7:15 to get my substrates stamped. As I walked in I ran into John Gurnsey. I took a plain air class three years ago from John and he’s a full time professional, teaching painting all around town. At that point I summed up my chances as slim for top prize. John was just on his way out with his boards and we just chatted about a few possible painting spots and then he left. Inside I ran into Charles Scogins, another accomplished painter—two strikes! I decided to paint a view of  of a row of the stores around the square. I used one of the drawings as start for the painting that I planed on a 12 x24 inch board. This is a unique size and always impressive —if executed properly. The weather was poor, it rained the night before and it was overcast almost the entire day. My plan was to paint the far southeastern corner with the Antique Store at the far end and a few small shop to the west. I set up right on the square and with my drawing in mind I straightened the stores to a face on view  bleeding the tops off the  board. This allowed me to do an almost plan on view and made the drawing much easier. I planed some light and shadow to emphasize a few areas, I also intended to put in two vehicles, two of the large trees and few walking figures. Very ambitious but with all the planning I was well prepared. I usually use vine charcoal to do a preliminary drawing. It’s soft and easy to just wipe off if you need to adjust it’s also more tonal and quick to use than a pencil. After my charcoal I roughed in with a light dark wash of oil. At this point who should show up but Shane McDonald. Shane is one of the best painters I know and he actually won the first Cobb plain air —strike three!

Pressing on now with just a bit less confidence I stuck to my game plan. Instead of playing with the tree shadows and the light off the cars I concentrated on the wet street reflections and the warm interior lights of the stores. As I said, I usually start with a shadow color of every object I paint as a rough in. I use a lot of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue at this point mixing in just a touch of yellow or ocher to get a black. With a few variations I use this for the darks and varying greyed values either warm or cool—red, blue or green for the rest of the objects. Some times I’ll change key with lighter tones in the background to get some atmospheric effects working. This is not intuitive and it’s hard to work out sometimes. Obviously blue recedes —but some times I go with alizarin (Gurnsey influence)  As with a lot of things this is not written in stone. So…back to the painting I mixed up the lighter versions of the colors to put in on top of those nice darks. I brushed them in using the base for shadows here and there. All of the sudden I lost that nice dark rainy look! Dang! The only option I had was to really lighten the one patch of sky I had to make everything appear darker. Short of repainting the entire panel I  had no choice. Almost a straight white—ooph!

It'sRaininginMariettaI also did a few sketches the previous night of the famous fountain on the square. Google images are a great tool and I noticed that the ones I liked were all very close shots so I set up for number two right in front of the fountain. I moved it over to left a bit and made it the largest object in the painting. To the right was smaller statue that I was intending to  leave in silhouette and a crepe myrtle—not yet leaved out. Busy fountain, busy tree behind…I realized that this was not going to be one of the two that I was allowed to put in the show. Still I enjoyed working on it as the afternoon wFountain on the Squareore on and the weather tried to improve. A young guy named Peter talked to me for almost an hour as I worked this one out. I actually don’t usually mind that just so long they just talk and I don’t have to listen to carefully. So I finished up this 9 x 12 and went to lunch at one of the restaurants right on the square. My next idea was to do view from the railroad crossing up to the square. This was another idea I worked out the previous night. I planned to do an 18 x24 this time so I was pushing it with a start time around 2 and a 6 PM deadline. The weather was getting worse instead of better and I was having trouble getting this view to work with the charcoal. I  switched to a 12 x 15′ board and hung in there until the skies opened up and washed my charcoal off—even then trying with just paint, but it was too much so I threw in the towel.

The first day ended with getting back to the museum and and turning in my days work along with checking out the other paintings. Lots more than i thought, some very good but I was confident I was in there with my 12 x24. I got home before five and had a glass of wine and some dinner. Lather that evening I got my frames and tools together so I could take care of that after painting Sunday. I decide to barrow my wife nice new wagon to transport it all and then I hit the sack early.

Sunday I was up a 5 unable to sleep any longer. if possible the weather was worse! At least it wasn’t raining but the wind was wicked and cold. I drove to the museum checked in my boards and then got in the wagon on a search for some spring color. On the home the previous afternoon I saw some nice blooming trees along Cherokee Street northwest of town. After about an hour of driving around looking for alternatives I ended up there. With no preliminary drawing I was a bit lost and I finally parked myself in front of a small cottage with a few early blooming dogwoods. I really wanted to do a backlit subject but the arching shadows of elaborately  designed Victorian gingerbread took control of my brain! I’m queer for that stuff. Amidst a 40 mph wind and about 30 degrees I worked on my best linen board. With a super dark rough in underneath my lights were garish when I put them in plus all that gingerbread —what a mess. But I came to my senses around noon. I actually got out my Gamsol and poured it on the board and wiped it clean. Three hours wasted and only three hours to go!

Turning around I noticed the house behind me was lit up like a Christmas tree. The right side all light, with a dark garage in the back that made it even brighter. The color was arresting too, a dark straw orange against the bright green of the newly leaved bushes and fresh grass, plus a few just blooming dogwoods and a stairs that came down from the porch to act as a center of attention…perfect! It was very similar to the Magnolia House painting I did two weeks previous only a bock from this location.  I painted with a purpose and delighted in the colors and structure. I had some issues with the stairs but in the end covered them with a bush. I spent the last hour putting in some shadows and highlights on the grass and branches of the dogwoods and laying a pink haze above them —not actually there but it really worked. The linen surface is so smooth and it takes some getting used to but you can really do some wonderful effects with the side of your brush.  Scraffitio works the best on this surface too and I finished up with a bit here and there along with my name scratched into the corner.

Back to the museum I got the two good ones framed up, came up with a few titles and drove home. 6:30 was the reception and I arrived fashionably late. As I walked in the gallery was packed and I bought a glass of wine and made my way around the first room. The second painting in was the second award winner. A nice bright painting of one of the street corners—I was a bit confused. Certainly not a bad painting but not the quality I was expecting of a winner with this many good painters. You can never tell—every judge is different. I moved on, just then Jane Springfield, a friend and fellow painter came up and said—”Congratulations Ed!” Well I knew I didn’t win second place. She tugged me into the back gallery, there was my second painting with a blue ribbon next to it.

I knew it was good but as I said you never know what the judge thinks. I was happy—still am. Later that evening my daughter showed up with my grandson Cole, whom I adore. We went for ice cream after to celebrate.  A very busy but wonderful weekend.805CherokeeSt.

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Are you ready for…Spring?

Pink Magnolia HouseThat’s an understatement, I realize. This has been the coldest winter I’ve seen in many, many years. And I live in Atlanta…bless all of you who live north of the Mason-Dixon. For the past two weeks I’ve been working on Saturdays only trying to get some stuff done around the house. The weather has been spotty—it’s below freezing here this morning!  We have had some nice warm day though and spring is a wonderful thing in Atlanta. The Chinese magnolias are the first to bloom and I found this huge example a few Saturdays ago along Church Street in Marietta. I drove bye on this one way street and took an immediate right turn to circle back. I parked in one of the many church lots and walked back to this spot. The bright sunlight on the side of the house really helped this one. The owner came out with his darling daughter and gave me  a lot of encouragement. Got quite a lot of hits on FB with this —pent up demand for a warming view but I like this one too.Stone Path

Afterwards, I drove up to the other side of town for this view of the Brumby Hall gardens. I was thinking there would be some color but roses and such are featured here and they are no where near blooming. It’s a smaller 9 x12 and I did it in a few hours working hard to vary shapes and the greens and get some light on that path.

Friday night before all this I was in the backyard for another view. With daylight savings time I can Almost Springpaint until 8PM or later now and the light is very nice. The other view of the house I worked on several evenings trying to get that sun just as it hit the house and bushes. Talk about fleeting moments! you get about 20 minutes when it hits like this —five when it really torches up!

This last weekend (3/22) I was Daylight Savings Timeout all day Saturday, again in Marietta just north of Church street along Sessions Street. I parked at Lewis Park and walked around this delightful neighborhood that follows the railroad tracks going northwest out of the center of town. I’ve never been back in this area and I was very interested in the older southern homes, many smaller and unusual. Up along St. Johns Way I found several brightly painted house and stores that attracted me. I ended up at the corner of the two streets looking south for the view I call Southern Charm. It’s a 12 x12 and although pretty complicated I did my best to simplify it and get some feeling in. The big green magnolia went in well. This one required about and hour studio work when I got it home to put the light in-it was cloudy most the day until around 4PM.  TheRedStoreThe other is of one of those small wildly colored buildings. This one a store with and almost western facade on it—and painted a shocking red with white trim. I played up the green shadows on this backlit view with a painting I saw by Fred Delesco recently in mind. His was frontlit though and bit more spectacular—to say the least.

All this Marietta work is in preparation for the Marietta/Cobb Museum Paint-Out this is this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. Wish me luck!





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Spring’s almost here


1Hour_Along the creek 2Well it’s here now but a few weeks ago when I did these paintings there was still a nip in the air and no leaves on the trees. I’m playing catch up and writing this on a Monday morning when I have work to do but don’t want to do it. These were done Sunday after my trip to Etowah and are closer to home. I did the one up top over on Sloan Street in Roswell. This was the first of the day but I spent the most time on it. This older neighborhood is filled with homes built in the late 1800s although I’m not sure this is one. It was the smallest and the yellow color just made me want to paint it.That yellow/purple relationship was played up here to the extreme. The guy who lived here came out about an hour in and hung around for about an hour chatting—guess he had nothing better to do. I really don’t mind but it did slow me down a bit. In the end I put his dog in and I think it made the painting. Retired and renting he wanted to buy this but $150 was too much.

After the house a went about a block away to Vickery creek and set up right on the creek for two 1 hour quickies, one of which (below) turned into two hours.

Shadow on the creek

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North by Northwest— Part 3, The Indian Mounds

Afternoon Along the EtawahI finally got it together to get up to the Indian mounds on the Etowah river. When my oldest daughter was in the Girl Scouts my wife and her friend Rosemary planned a trip to the Indian mounds I went along being the kinda guy Mound1Hour—IndianMoundthat is always intrigued by ancient  cultures. I remembered the river being the nicest part of the trip and have kept it in my mind as a possible plein air site.  So Saturday the 8th I drove up on a nice sunny day with all my gear. I tried to cut over from 75 a bit early to avoid going thru Cartersville and found myself lost a few times before finally finding the right road and getting to the parking lot around noon. I paid my six bucks and walked right to the first and biggest mound. I carry a pack, and easel and my 1 Hour—IndianMound2box and this day I had for or five  boards of various sizes—and there heavy. I recently bought a sheet of eraser board, a laminate with white plastic on the front.  Well I use it on the back of course and glue primed canvas on. I thought I’d give it a try with the idea in mind that it will not warp a readily as the plywood I usually buy. It’s not much more money but it is much heavier. So I marched up 144 steps to the top of the mound. After all that, the view was just so-so. It was still winter and the the trees were just sticks and big trailer park ruined the view North. Having carried all this stuff up I was determined to do something so I set up my sketch board ( ad that to all the crap I was lugging around) and did a few quick views of the other two mounds. Kind a quirky, and not much to interest anyone but one did end up on the Plein Air Website front page for last week. Go figure —Don Maier is a different kinda bird.

After that I walked back down 144 steps and headed out to the river. It was a nice days and I ended up setting up at the far north of the park looking south down the river for a 12 x24. I only had about three hours and even though it was almost finished when I took it home— I just had to change a few things. I spent another ten hours on it! In the end I’m still not satisfied with it—how about another ten hours!

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North by Northwest —Part 2, The cotton field Incident

Cotton Field-1HourI wasn’t exactly ducking to avoid crop dusters but I did feel a bit isolated out on country roads this weekend. On Februsry 8th I drove about and hour NW to the Etawah Indian Mounds. I got the idea of attempting something with a wide open space. I’ve been their before many years ago so I thought this might be a good bet.  Unfortunately the park was closed (on a Sunday!) so I just drove around up  there —usually a waste of time. But as I was driving near the Etawah river I found this house with a  field of cotton in front—white house, white cotton, cool! I never seen cotton growin as long as I’ve been down here and it was winter. I could see fields of it in the distance too—a light blue color—very unusual. So I parked  about a quarter mile away on a small turn in across the road and set up on the other side in what now I understand was private property—well isn’t it all, but I should have asked.  I set up to do a quickie on one of my small taped up canvas pieces. About 20 minutes in a guy comes out and marches the 500 yards down the street, I meet him half way.

“What are you doing?

—painting a picture

You can’t do that  here—who are you?

Ed Cahill—card. Can I just finish up?

Well you can set up on the street but  not here


So I set up closer to the street and work on the little 8×10 just to finish it up. A few cars go by, one with a few women who are taking pictures of me with their cell phones. I wave and smile and get back to work.They come back a second time and roll down the window

“Do you know how disturbing  it is to us that you’re painting a picture of our house?,

We live there—we don’t even know your children.

Oh I’m sorry, I’m just leaving.

What are you  going to do with that picture?

Ahh….nothing probably keep it.

Well, we want you to tear it  up.

I’m not doing that— you can have it if you wish but I’m not tearing it up.”

So I packed up as fast as I could and got out of there thinking   the State Patrol was on it’s way. Just another fun day painting.

I really did like the little painting although and my original intent was to have no road, just cotton in front of the white house. These ladies were also concerned that I had taken a few photos while I was there. Privacy is not as much a concern to me as to others I guess. I certainly was not doing anything to hurt anyone…I should have asked. Connot&House

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North by northwest—Part 1, Waleska

Waleska1-!Hour1Hour—Waleska2For the past two weeks or so I’ve been exploring Northwest of my location here in   Marietta, I just get bored with trying to find new places and find it easier to drive out a bit from the suburbs to the country. It’s fairly easy heading up either 575 towards Blue Ridge or a bit further west and up 75 towards Cartersville.

On Saturday the first of March it was bit cloudy but I decided to head up 575 and see if I could find some open farm land near Canton. I don’t like to drive around scouting because I’m always thinking there something better over the next hill. With that in mind I promised myself to stop at the first good view I could find, Going West from Canton I went thru a small town called Waleska. It’s quiet and not very big. Rienhart College is located there and I noticed a nice old store building right down town. On the other side of town the landscape turned more rural and I was coming around a bend I noticed a view of a small steam winding it’s way through a pasture. I took the next right and wound back around to check it out. There was an intersection with a few industrial building close by so I pulled in and finding no one around proceeded to get my equipment out. Just then a truck came out of nowhere. Guy rolled down the window—

What’s you do’in?

Just out painting today, do you think it’s all right to park here.

No—we don’t like folks parking here, you can go down the road about a tenth of mile to a golf course and park there, no one will mind.

Sure no problem—thanks.

So I loaded back up and drove down to a small golf course—in the middle of nowhere. I parked and headed back with all my gear and in about ten minutes I was set up with a nice view down the little valley. I came with my new set-up of a sketching board that I tape a few small pieces of canvas to. I wanted to do a few one hour paintings after reading a book by Kevin McPhearson in which he suggested doing 100 or so quick starts. I like the idea because I’m always spending too much time on my little 9 x12″ paintings, working them to death. This way I think I can get quicker and less fussy.

Taped next to each other I have a  fashion of working on them both at the same time. The first I concentrated on the view I noticed from the car. The other I used to capture a nice scene abot 50 yard to the left that included the fence that I set up next to winding up a hill to a small shack. I also used a business card that I had punched a whole in to test the colors by isolating them thru the hole. I found this to be quite useful and a good way to think carefully before you put the color down. As I said, I worked on both at the same time and some of the colors were the same so it mad things go quicker. Also I notice shifts in color —like the grass color from the one to the other. All of the sudden I realized there was someone behind me.


Sorry did’nt mean to frighten you. I was driving bye and saw you down here and wanted to take a photo, is that all right?

Well sure, I’m surprised you saw me down here. I sometimes get so carried away that I don’t notice people.


Well you know I’m a nut with this camera phone and I’m always taking shots. Hope you don’t mind.


No problem.


Back at it I was pleased with the results and after less than two hours I loaded up my gear and headed back to the car thinking how much faster it would have been if I could have parked right across the street. No one around anyway.

I jumped back into the Z and headed back toward Waleska. I drove around the seemingly abandoned campus looking for a good spot. The had an arts building —too small, and a  performing arts building —too big. All on on a fake lake and the buildings all had fake Greek columns.

Hate that stuff.

Back in the car I headed down the block to crossroads of town where the only original structure I could find stood. Cline’s Store it said on the sign jutting out from the front. Nice old southern style clap board structure with a hip roof made of metal. The upstair windows were painted white for some reason, still it had that look—Look that I love. So I set up across the street as far back as I could get to do it’s portrait. I still squashed it in a little 9 x12 board. Using my new color finder I had fun with all the whites that turned up to not be white at all. I was there three hours or so. A few people stopped by, but not many. Human nature I guess, if they can see what your doing they are not all that curious, but set up out of the way somewhere and your sure attract attention.


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More from the schoals

Backwater AfternoonLast weekend I spent most of my tim1Hour#5e Saturday and Sunday painting over at the shoals on  the Chattahoochee again. This is a quite and interesting place, even with very little in the way of color right now. In a month it aught to be spectacular. The snags have been snagging me. A few small islands on the east side of the river are close in and the water flows through the narrows at a pretty good pace catching old trees and whatever at the points. I’m setting up on the northeast side to take advantage of 1Hour#6the sun as it passes over and eventually back-lights the water with pretty spectacular results. Saturday I did a few one hour poses and then worked on a longer view of of them that features a big orange log caught at the mouth of the backwater. Sunday I went back and did another another across the river view and finished up the backwater painting. It’s very green but this photo is a bit saturated , so not as much as looks here. I think that’s about it for this Cochran Shoals 2:16:14spot till we get some spring growth and then I’ll be back.

I occasionally do a still life and I grabbed the my wife’s valentine flowers for this one I call, Still Fresh. Just about and hour and I fused over it but in the end it came out interesting, especially for the color and perhaps the placement. I used the background of my studio floor and rug, abstracting it a bit at first just to organize it but as I went along I saw how it worked better 2D than 3D.  I should do more like this in a controlled environment.   Still Fresh

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One hour —my new kick

Snag on the ShoalsThis weekend I established a new goal—100 1 hour paintings. In a quest to get ready for my third year of plein air events I thought I’d go back to basics and try to establish a quicker pace to my work, so Saturday I taped up two 8 x10″ pieces of primed canvas on to a board that set up for figuARtBoardre drawing pad. It’s small enough to fit on to my plein air easel and it’s easy to carry around. So two Saturday and two Sunday, a good start only 96 to go! I was inspired by an article in Plein Air Magazine and I knew this is what I need to do to get me out of the rut of 4 hour 9 x12 paintings. I intend to do my regular work also so this is just plus painting—the more the better.

Saturday the weather was warm enough to get out and by afternoon I was driving the river south of the house near Atlanta. I ended up on the east side of Cochran Shoals—more wild and less busy than the other shore and much better for painting. I  did a few of the 1 hour paintings an then a large 18 x 24″ (top pic) of the same view. The wind was a bit of a problem but I weighed my tripod down with a few logs and everything went well. xstreme plein air? —not quite, but I did have to cross over this twenty foot tree to get over to the spot I painted. If I would have fallen in it would have made the title. The way over was ok but on the way back I had to stop twice and re balance myself…oh so daring! A nice spot though. I can say that this one place I will visit again.1Hour#21Hour#1

Sunday I was lazy but had some time and set up out front on the cul-de-sac for two quickies, one of the house next door and another of a Tacoma truck parked there. Honestly it took me just over two hours.



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More Snow!

Snow in the Southern WoodsOne day it’s beautiful and warm and the next it’s snowing—that’s winter in Atlanta.  I’ve been sneezing and in and out of a cold as result of this strange winter. I feel guilty that I have not gotten out more to take advantage of what is the only snow I’ve seen on the ground in years. I was fortunate to have a few hours yesterday for this 9 x12 of the woods near my house. I find that I work on the small ones just as long as the 18 x24″s I’ve been doing. Not a good thing. I’m sure I’d benefit from doing dozens of one hour paintings at 8 x10″. On my list.Gun at the Gate

Last Sunday I went over to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield and spent the day painting cannons, one at the gate the other on the top of the mountain. This is my second trip here and after a fiasco last time I was wise to catching the bus up so I could spent more time painting. In the end I was frustrated by the wheels of these cannons—17 spokes and ellipses don’t make for plein air fun. I just couldn’t resist though, another lesson that you have to learn, Pick your subject matter carefully.  Sunset on Kennesaw Mountain

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