Chistensen Color

The Golden Hour— 18 x24″ Painted right off Wellio Rd. in Roswell along the Chattahoochee River

2018 is here, with it the end of the holidays and the beginning of getting back to work. As a painter you must be completely self motivated, your own task master, marketing manager, financial officer —and well, everything. I’m set up to teach a class this spring at Kennesaw State and even though it’s just one class and part of their continuing education department, I’ve taken it very seriously and intend to do the best I can for my students. It’s a bit of experiment to see how I like teaching and how effective I can be. I hope to use it as a primer for teaching workshops in the future. If you have some interest and live in the area, look for my Oil Painting class in the Spring OLLI — Osher Lifelong Learning Institute catalog( —we will cover basics but I will have my eye out for some willing students who may wish to expand their learning and get out for some Plein Air. All in all it will be fun and affordable.

I’m always looking for a spark of info and sometimes a class or video can be just the trick. Recently I was given a gift of the Scott Christensen video, 3 Landscape Studies ( by my wife for Christmas. I love his work—mostly western mountain landscapes in the tradition of Edgar Payne. So many have been influenced by this painter that I was a bit shy to adapt too many of his techniques but I can honestly say that a few things he stressed hit home for me and might have improved my work.
He uses a very limited palette —Titanium white, Ultramarine blue, Permanent Red, and Lemon Yellow Cad.—ad to this two self mixed colors, a grey built out of those colors in somewhat equal amounts and a yellowish tan khaki —again mixed from those basic colors. I found this interesting and simple —a good thing, especially for me, as I tend to go off the deep end with my color. The big change is no Ocher and Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red or Orange —All very prominent colors on my palette. The red in not overly saturated —like Cadmium so it takes a bit more to warm things up and it’s not as dominant in a mix. This gets a bit more paint in —especially in darks, something everyone always runs short on. Darks shade either blue or red. I mix Ultramarine Blue—a somewhat de saturated color to begin with at 60-70%, to Alizarin at 30-40% and a bit of yellow (2%) to get my darkest dark. Permanent red —not being as saturated requires a bit more paint. but it’s easier to mix at about a 50/50 blue and red +the Yellow.

Winter Grays 12 x16″ —painted at Mabry Farm using a limited palette

Another key aspect of his procedures is his pre mixing. Of course all of us have done this but I am not religious about it —well not until I saw this video and decided to give it a good honest try. I’ve been very pleased with the results.
I’m a sight size guy, so my view is pretty much transcribed onto my board at the same scale— I observe and mix the colors starting with the darkest dark. Then I work on picking out the other dominant colors and building them—I mimic Christensen here, mixing in some of that neutral gay into almost every mix—especially the greens. He says he mixes the gray before hand and tubes it up himself along with that khaki tan color—I have not tried this but certainly the gray is rather easy to obtain, if you paint as much as most of us you’ll have some left over from your last outing or on your studio palette—easy enough to transfer into your box before you go out. The khaki is another matter—you’re going to have to mix this purposely or perhaps buy a titanium buff—no big thing.

Pond Reflections —12 x16 Painted at Lieta Thompson Park

This method, although it slows you down to start actually improves your speed and gives you better cleaner color and in my case plenty of it so I can do the thicker applications that I prefer. Bring a full size palette knife because this will speed things up. It also helps you from over stroking —or petting as they say. You have plenty of paint so you just use it more directly instead of stretching it out. You can’t paint a good plein air painting with out the proper amount of paint. And again I found that I actually used less paint! You have the colors you need and you are better at mixing them all at the same time than you are on the fly. Often, deep into a painting I run out and find myself tired and just using any dark or any light just to keep at it.
The result is lively grays, less acidic greens and cleaner color. Nuff said…give it a try!

Final Portrait 12 x12″ Painted at Mabry Farm

Spring comes around

Dogwoods on Canton St.

It’s inevitable, Spring can’t be stopped. And who would want to? But this winter was good for me in the marsh and on the boardwalk. Now things have changed and I’m looking in framilliar places for the things I love about Spring. Dogwoods, red buds, sunny grass reflecting on eves and longer warmer days to paint.

I’ve spent several weekends on Canton Street chasing blossoming trees and strong light. This first one is The Cat Clinic —nothing to do with cats but lots to do with green in all it’s variations. Right below a view of the Fickle Pickle—a very busy restaurant in an old mid

Cat Clinic

19th century home. The Stone House—another Canton Street landmark that I did just recently—more light than usual, it being on the bright side of the road.  A small 9×12—Spring on Canton Street. featuring dogwoods and lots of reflective color. And the obligatory font on view of MacMagees—my favorite watering hole.

The Fickle Pickle
The Stone House


Mac MaGees

Back to the River for Winter

Reflections on the Flats Ed Cahill Plein Air
Reflections on the Flats. 9 x 12″

I’ve lived here in Marietta nearly twenty years now. It’s actually my second tour of duty here in Georgia, so almost thirty years in this lovely warm spot. Over the years it’s grown more hectic and crazy on the roads, thank God I have avoided most of this by working out of my house the last fifteen years. When I started painting plein air in earnest five years back I knew it would take a lot of work—a lot of brush in the bush time to get to the point I could call myself a professional. This certainly has been the case,with some bravery and ingenuity I might have sped up the process by several decades! There are many young men and women who have taken on the challenge to be professional painters along with raising a family and made it work—I salute them. To those considering it—it’s all a matter of what you expect of yourself. Work hard, have a plan and I believe you can do it. It will take a while but you will learn the things you must do and you will will be happier and more successful in the long run.

Boardwalk Map

Back to painting. You can go back many post and see that I’ve pretty much figured out the places I’m most comfortable painting in this area. It’s a process of exploration, and experience. I want to get painting as soon as possible —I want to be productive, so I look for places with nature and some place to park. The Chattahoochee near Roswell is great this time of the year—long views and plenty of atmosphere. And it just got considerably better. This last week they opened a mile long stretch of boardwalk that not only parallels the river but at one point cuts across through the flats area between Azalea Drive and Willeo Rd. I’ve heard that this cost well over a million dollars —money well spent! They did a wonderful job and with the way they build decks now —not with much wood, it aught to last a good long time. The only problem is parking, you must either park at the Nature Center or at the parking lot on Azalea Drive both of which are are not great. The Nature Center is not open all the time and the Azalea Drive parking lot is about a half mile from the boardwalk and is full most of the time. You can sneak into the St. Francis School parking lot at the corner but it’s also more than a half mile away from the entrance.

Complain, complain! Really nothing to complain about. It’s glorious and has view of the river on one side and the flats on the other. Hundreds of paintings here but not easy ones! The brush is dense even in the winter and you will have to edit a lot—again, nothing to complain about. For the next several months I will be spending lots of time there—you are welcome to join me. Not knowing of the opening I started a few weekends ago at the fishing park further up Willleo Rd., this is a spot I’ve painted many times before. A great place to catch the sunrise over the ridge and reflection off the river. I was up early and set up near 8AM on the hill behind the parking lot with a view across. The water level is way down so there was a very interesting shape to the mud flats as it winds out to the river. I wanted to catch that early light and color, but I also had in mind a big 18 x24″ for this view. I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick 9 x12″ first and then take my time on the larger one using the small one for color reference. So this first one is the 9 x12″ that I did Sunday morning 12/11.

Chattahoochee Sunrise 9 x 12″
December Sunrise
December Sunrise 18 x 24″

The next is the 18 x24 that I worked on later and finished up the next weekend. I was not happy with all the excess Dioxide Purple. This a color that I tend to overdue when I have it on my palette. I should just eliminate it but I am always mixing purples and it just saves so much time! I also use Naples Yellow a bit too much—again, It’s just too easy to over use that lovely cool yellow and both are hard to disguise.

Chattahoochee Impresions Ed Cahill Plein Air
Chattahoochee Impressions 18 x24″

I’ve had some success working bigger lately. I like 18 x24 inches when I have everything thought out and the time. Sometimes they don’t even take any longer as with this view from Willeo Road looking North-East. I also used a branch hanging down in front to give me something in the foreground—it seems to work in this one. This was painted before we lost lost the leaves and is a great illustration of why this area is great to paint. You have some distance that you can work with—gradually blueing things as they go back.

Sunset at Riverbend
Sunset at Riverbend 9 x 12″
Winter on the River
Winter on the River 8 x16″

This group of smaller paintings the first a 9×12 painted along the main stretch of boardwalk near the Wellio Rd. (top of page) the other around sunset looking southwest in early December and the third a 8 x16″ painted soon afterwords. The last two were painted perhaps only fifty feet apart—This shows you the diversity of views available here. I like the winter color in the 8 x16, and this view lent itself to the panoramic crop.

This last weekend was Christmas but I got a few good days in before and the weather was unseasonably warm. On the 22nd I got over a bit late in the afternoon to the boardwalk. I set up right at the elbow that start’s the walks section out over the flats. This crosses over a meandering swap like area with a treeline and the river behind it. I did a 12 x12 that day looking straight into the setting sun. I was pleased with it but I saw a potential for a bigger painting and the next day I brought over a 20 x 24″ that I had—with a nice pale red ground. I got in place around noon and worked until almost five—or sundown, this time of the year. The last hour was spectacular!

Cool Reflections
Cool Reflections 20 x 24″

My plans are to do some closer in views next working with the brush and the muted winter colors.

UPDATE 1/4/17

Light on the Flats
Light on the Flats 9 x12″

A few more from the river last week. I met Allison Graham Doke, Shane McDonald and Anna Jones Ladefoged. for a session on Friday. It was cold but bright and everyone enjoyed themselves. I did a small bright 9 x12 first then set in on a 12 x16″ as the day progressed. Everyone else had things to do but I hung in and proceeded to frustrate myself a bit on this view of the marsh through a tree screen. It got a bit muddy and messy so I scraped most of it off and went back over the next day to finish it. A totally different experience on Saturday with no bright sun at all—again I worked hard to repaint and came up with this. Might still require a bit of work!

Gray Day Geese
Gray Day Geese 12 x16

Spring brings a new begining

Issues with my web site and blog have finally been resolved thanks to my daughter Jennifer, whom is my web rock star—Thanks, as always Jen. The new website is cleaner and html based so viewers (few) should not have any ipad issues ect.

Just a Hint of Spring
Just a Hint of Spring, 12×16, Oil on Linen, Available for $350.00


This is the first week of Spring and I am always drawn to flowering trees like a bee. Monday afternoon I took the afternoon off and hiked down the hill for this early spring view of the small stream that crosses Running Fox Dr. I’ve painted here several times before—most with good results. I was attracted by, of course the water but also the chartruse  glow of new growth in the light contrasted against the still faded pinks of the poplars. This doesn’t last too long and I was glad to record it before the green turns darker and the whole view changes in character. Plein air has that ability to capture fleeting moments like this and I believe that is why I’m so enamoured with it. Like poetry instead of a novel—in a few hours you can express the fleeting emotions of a view.

First Baptist
First Baptist, 12×12, Oil on Linen, Available for $250


After the weeks work I was rewarded with another fine Spring day on Saturday. I drove to Roswell looking for a view with the blooming pear trees and was rewarded with this almost canned composition looking up one of the roads off Alpharetta Hwy. towards the First Baptist church on Mimosa Street.  I kept the church high key with blues and purples as my darks and used only only a few darker tones up front on the trees to the right. I’m doing a lot of knife work on my painting as of late—certainly gives them a different look. Most likely it’s transitional as I get more comfortable using it. I drove home around three and had some time so I did a quick 9 x12 of a the Chinese Magnolia that grows across the cul-de-sac from my home. The blue sky had clouded over so there was no light. I  might take this out for another go if the weather improves—must be soon though these magnolia blooms don’t last long.

Pink Magnolia
Pink Magnolia, 9×12, Oil on Canvas, Available for $100


The new website allows me to sell my work now and if you see something you like look for it there. If not just email me at

So many houses – so little time

Naylor Hall
Naylor Hall

I love to paint house portraits. Especially 1800’s style southern classic revival homes. I’ve done so many that I’ve become an expert at the form. The way the fluted columns set outside the corners of the roofs, the classic “golden rectangle ” proportions and white on white clapboard. I love the way they reflect the lavish lawns that so often surround them making them green at the bottom and lavender as they reach for the sky. This one was painted about a month ago in Roswell on Canton Rd. It’s Naylor Hall and is now used for wedding receptions  and special occasions. This information is from the website.

“Built in the 1840’s by Barrington King for H.W. Proudfoot and his wife, Euphemia. Mr. King, son of Roswell’s founder, employed Mr. Proudfoot as a bookkeeper in his newly constructed Roswell Mills, which would later become famous in its own right for its production of Roswell Grey cloth used in Confederate uniforms.

Reportedly, in anticipation of Sherman’s march, huge supplies of Confederate uniforms were taken from the mill and secretly stored at Naylor Hall. In the summer of 1864, the Proudfoot’s home was heavily damaged by Federal troops. After occupation, Proudfoot began to rebuild. He remained with the mill, and in his home, until his death in 1871.

In the late 1930’s Colonel Harrison Broadwell purchased the property, naming it Naylor Hall in honor of his wife’s family. He also added the columns, the handcrafted woodwork, and the portico encompassing the original structure.”

Like so many homes in the Roswell downtown area it is tied to Civil War history and fortunate to have been cared for and restored over many generations and many owners.

A quick update

Redezvous at the Falls
Redezvous at the Falls
Roswell Night Life
Roswell Night Life

Over the last few weeks I’ve been painting quite a bit but have no time for the blog. If you’re like me you’d rather see the work anyway so I will upload some the paintings I’ve done. The first group were done with Leon Holmes on his last day here in the US. We spent the day at Vickery Creek here in Roswell along with a great dinner at Salt in Roswell, finishing up with a nocturnes afterward.

The is second group of two plein airs were done on Hembree Rd. in Roswell. There is a stretch of somewhat undisturbed rural beauty consisting of a few early home and a small farm. This is a spot that has been on my list for sometime now.

Hembree Road Farm
Hembree Road Farm
Hembree Road Cottage
Hembree Road Cottage
Mountain Park Memorial Day
Mountain Park Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend I spent a a day out at Moutain Park painting this 8 x16 of the lake and Sunday near the railroad tracks on Canton Rd. for this view of a concrete factory

Concrete Factory
Concrete Factory



Last Saturday I drove out to Dacula GA for the third installment of the Gwinnett Parks Plein Air. A lot of driving, even more walking and a bit of painting produced this 12 x16 that takes a bit of a turn for me in that I used a small knife for a lot of it. I’ve been meaning to try this for some time—finally got the nerve.

Harbring Park
Harbring Park

This last week I’ve been working on paintings for the Atlanta Zoo’s Art Gone Wild Event. I will put a post together on this after the auction on Saturday night.

Memorial Day 2013

Spring Afternoon at Vickery Creek
Spring Afternoon at Vickery Creek

This was the first weekend back to a normal schedule of two a day in quite some time. The weather was fantastic with high 70’s and very little humidity. I can’t remember such a string of more perfect days. Saturday I drove over to Vickery Creek and set up right on the water for these two views, one south with the ruins of the old mill and the other north. I thought the north view was better at first but have grown to see the other as more interesting. Both required a bit of work after the fact—but not much. Sunlight on Vickery Creek

Memorial Day 2013
Memorial Day 2013

Sunday I stayed home with my visiting dad and watched the Indy 500. My father’s wife has a lot of associations with the race and we were rooting for three cars from the Sam Schmidt stable. I did a quick sketch of this view from out the window down to the deck the day before and since my wife was at work I was able to set up and paint this one right in the family room as we watched the big race. In the end none of our drivers finished in the money but I a least had this painting. Later that day I finished up a start from Friday that I had scraped off off the Oak Leaf Hydrangea in the back yard. The scraped off prior painting gave me an interesting sunlit feeling and I went with it, but having to keep my values lower up front was a bit of chore.

Oak Leaf hydrangea
Oak Leaf hydrangea

Wacky Weather Plein Air in Roswell

Red in Roswell
Red in Roswell

Global warming—if it’s a reality can lead to opportunities to paint more. I guess that’s a good spin a bad problem but I need all the good I can get.

I’ve been thinking about doing some street scenes in the historic part of Roswell for a quite awhile now and finally got up my nerve to give it a go. I really don’t like a lot of people  looking at my work as I paint but I am getting use to it. I hedged my fear with the idea of getting out early before the crowds start to gather and that was accurate. I was set up and started before 10am Saturday and Sunday morning. I used  a few on my newly made 12 x12″ boards for both of these views and was able to take advantage of my new pachade that lets me paint bigger.

The first view is head on of a red painted building being renovated on Canton Street. This use to be the old Gene and Gabe’s—a dinner theater that I guess went out of business a few years back. The new owners decided to make a splash and paint it Chinese red. It’s quite an eye opener and I didn’t mess with any subtle angle – just straight on. I started this Saturday without the benefit of white! I left it out of the bag so I returned Sunday and finished this one.

I decided to drive to the art store near and buy a tube of white and get some lunch. From there it was a short drive to McFarlan

McFarlane House
McFarlane House

e Nature Park so I decided to spend the afternoon. This is the second time I’ve painted here and everything is different without the Ginko trees leafed out. But I came up with a an idea of the back lighting the farm house and using a large foreground. Composition is a huge factor in plein air, when I dismiss it I usually end up with disappointing result no matter how I paint. I think this one works well.

Old town Roswell
Old town Roswell

Sunday morning I finished the red one and as noon drew near I started the other square with this street view just up Canton Street. By afternoon the tourist were out in throngs and I was in the thick of it. Surprisingly, only a few were brave enough to stop and chat. I use figures in both of the Roswell paintings as I like to do when they are an integral part of the experience. I had to do a bit of touch up on both when I got home—most notably the red one after dropping it in the pine straw. You can see the previous days yellow scratched out of the blue sky—I thought this improved it, so it stays for now.

Liner Crazy

Mill at Vickery Creek
Mill at Vickery Creek

A quick post on the weekend’s plein air. I bought a liner brush last week and though I did not use it I had some fun with it touching these two 11 x 14s up after hours of frustrating effort trying to get those stick trees in just right. I think I overdid it a bit but I enjoyed the free feeling and if I temper myself I think I can make it work in my tool box. The top painting was done Sunday on Vickery Creek. I blogged a few times about this wonderful stretch of  water so I will not repeat myself. It’s been cloudy for the last few weeks but I do like the browns and grays in this.

At the bottom a view of  one of the many restored Polk St. historic homes just West of the Square in Marietta. This is from a park across the street that John Guernsey paints often. It’s one of the locations he uses for teaching. I’m tempted to cut this down to a square 11″  because it really has way too much going on and I’d like to center the view in on the alley. John would not like the liner work.

Through the Alley
Through the Alley

Sloan Street

25 Sloan Street - Ed Cahill
25 Sloan Street – Ed Cahill

Sunday I drove over to the Sloan Street neighborhood in Roswell. This is one of my favorite places to paint houses_a subject I use to firm up my confidence. Over the last year I’ve painted here a half dozen times and I’m drawn to the well kept and restored 1800’s homes in the area. They are simple, but well proportioned and for the most part original. This view of 25 Sloan St. was an easy find with it’s striking green contrasting the orange fall leaves. I’m a sucker for fences too and although I know they are hard to paint and have a potential for looking busy I just cant resist them. I spent five hours on this — too long again but in the end I was pleased with the light. Lately I’ve been concentrating on the shadows and really trying to catch that feeling of sunlight as it defines my subjects. The sun was in and out all day and I did adjust my shadows late repainting that front so I could work out all the details without trying to remember how they looked hours before. With a thick paint this can be problematic but I just scrape the old paint off or load more on. I’m enjoying the thicker paint.

I spent Saturday on the river but both painting ended up looking off so I did some retouch – again not the best thing to do. Usually you just don’t have the information you need to do it effectively and without turning them into studio paintings. If I get them to an acceptable state, I will post them later.