Yendo Al Encuentro...

Oil on canvas  12x10 in.
This beach where the fishermen launch their wooden canoe boats is found below Cape Coast Castle, infamous for its horrific past as one of 40 forts along Ghana's Gold Coast where men and women were held to be sold to British slave ships throughout 18th century.  This is my painting for submission to Bill Guffey's Virtual Paintout for this month.  
You can see the image that inspired this painting at

"I am not interested in any one school or movement, nor do I care for art.  I am interested in life."  Robert Henri

Mother and Child on Kotokuraba Road (Cape Coast, Ghana)

Oil on canvas 12x10 in.
Submission for Bill Guffey's Virtualpaintout.  Image is found at:

"The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real."  Lucian Freud

Above Surface

Oil on canvas 12x10 in.
Wandering through the towns and streets of Ghana via GoogleMap, my eye was caught by this woman living in Nzulezo ("Surface of Water"), a village built entirely on stilts and platforms.  This painting is for this month's Virtualpaintout hosted by artist Bill Guffey.  Here's the link for this image:
                               “If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”  Edward Hopper

Holy Water/Agua Bendita

Oil on canvas
Challenging, meditative, discovering mixtures of blues...

"Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor, canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious.  Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fullest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses."  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Lure's The Thing

Oil on canvas 30x25 cm.
Puerto Rico is the site for the month of January on Bill Guffey's Virtualpaintout website.  I started this three weeks ago and then was not able to continue until I picked up my paintbrush today.
If you are interested in seeing the inspiration, click on:
"Painting is marvelous; it makes you happier and more patient.  Afterwards you do not have black fingers as with writing, but blue and red ones."  Hermann Hesse

El Parc de la Devesa de Girona

Oil on canvas board 24x19cm.
My partner and I ventured into northern Cataluñya to explore and eventually came to Girona, not really knowing what to expect.  When you enter the city, you cross the Ter River, and as soon as you do something very special happens.  You enter a forest of over 2500 magnificent plane trees that are over a hundred years old.  We parked our car and set off through the trees, marvelling over their stature, their serenity, their age.  I snapped a photo of Manuel walking towards the edge of the forest with the city of Girona waiting for us in the background.  I hoped one day to paint it.  The city itself is truly magical, a place you want to get lost in wandering narrow cobblestone medieval streets, discovering enchanting hidden corners, eating some of the most exciting gastronomical dishes ever.

                                                         “To wander is to be alive.”  Roman Payne

Virpazar Virtuality

Oil on canvas 10x8 in.
This is my entry for Bill Guffey's Virtualpaintout this month, a view of Virpazar, Bar, Montenegro. I am leaving tomorrow for Barcelona to spend the holidays, and I rushed a bit in order to complete something to post.  I read a bit about the country and discovered that this small mountainous country (Monte Negro "Black Mountain") on the Adriatic is recently independent from Serbia (in 2006).  

It is an interesting exercise into the reality-virtuality continuum--term used for a continuous scale ranging between the completely virtual (virtuality) and the completely real (reality)-- when one becomes engrossed in whatever website we enter.  I don't wish to wax poetic or wax philosophy too much, but the process of participating in Virtualpaintout by creating a simple painting of a site in an unfamiliar country discovered in virtual reality can reaffirm the consciousness that our commonality, our humanity, is far greater than our differences.  Here's the googlemap link:
May you have a wonderful and peaceful holiday.

Trio Tijuanero

Oil on canvas board 11x14 in.
This is another painting for the virtualpaintout on Bill Guffey's site (
(  This month's chosen Google Map adventure is searching the streets of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, for an image that inspires you.  These three determined musicians attempting to eke out a song and a living on the difficult streets of the city caught my eye.  To see the actual screen shot, go to:
“Painting has to do with knocking yourself out day after day trying to get what you want to down on canvas. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn't, but every day you try. That's what painting is."  Zibby Oneal

Robledal Revised

Oil on canvas 8x10 in.
I felt compelled to add to this painting.  The background trees had fallen into what landscape artist Mitchell Albala calls the "common malady known as greenitis."
"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."  Claude Monet


Oil on canvas 8x10 in.
This is a scene that I've always wanted to paint, 
the beautiful oak trees of Spain that are everywhere.  The oak grove (robledal) had these lovely lavender-ish flowers carpeting wildly. 
"Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye... it also includes the inner pictures of the soul" Edvard Munch

October 8..........Luz de La Palma

Oil on gessoed canvas  28x20 in.
This is my painting for the La Palma del Condado Plein Air Competition.  There is some glare and I will repost when I get it back and have a chance to take a better photo of the painting, but I am happy to say that it was chosen to be exhibited in the town hall there for the next two weeks.  What a day!  It was my first ever plein air competition and my first large canvas painting done plein air.  A wedding procession passed, a busload of British tourists visited, the mayor of the town and his associates spent 15 minutes conversing and watching my brushstrokes, a local TV station filmed, and various photographers snapped pics.  The feedback was wonderful and encouraging.  I believe I chose a unique perspective of the iconic church tower, seen from inside a shaded terrace.  It also was the porch of the local police who were very kind to allow me access and suggested the best place to set up because the sun would of course be constantly moving.  It was a hotter-than-usual day and after five and a half hours I was completely exhausted.  I should have made the sky on right side of church a little bluer to distinguish it from the arch wall, but all in all I am pleased.  There is something incredibly freeing about plein air.  Whatever happens you have to go with it.  You are completely exposed.  And no matter what ends up on canvas, you can at least be gratified that you showed up and did it.  The photos below reflect a bit of the beauty of the town, and the last are of the three winners, one, two, three.

    Plein Air en La Palma del Condado

    Tomorrow I am registered to participate in the Plein Air Competition in the beautiful pueblo of La Palma del Condado.  The Saeta 30-day challenge has given me a lot of new confidence to do as many different art events as I can, and this one really sounds interesting.  Challenging, however, is the requirement of painting on a canvas that is at least 50x70 cm (approx 20x28 in).  Usually when you do plein air the maximum size canvas is maybe 12x16.  The environmental conditions, the light, everything is changing so constantly that you have your hands full just trying to paint a small study.  Tomorrow a large, finished painting is the goal by the end of the day.  At nine a.m. they will announce the theme of the competition.  At six the paintings will be judged, with the top three receiving cash prizes, and then some paintings will be exhibited in the town hall for a week.  This is the first time I have participated in anything like this since I moved to Spain and it should be quite a day.

    September 30..........Casa en Cumbe

    Oil on canvas 8x8 in.
    Whew...very pleased that I have something for last day of this fantastic month-long challenge.  Again, thank you to everyone who visited my blog to see my artwork.  I appreciate your kindness and I enjoyed sharing this journey with you!

    September 29..........Barceloneta Bar Study

    Oil on gessoed canvas 8x10 in.
    So much to say.  Yes, I'm calling it a "study" because, oh, there's so much more to do, change, and on this little canvas it was very challenging for me.  I have not posted for three days and I so wanted to have something at least every other day.  But I have learned a tremendous amount this last month, not only in regards to the art of painting itself but how gratifying it is to share through cyber world with other painters of like minds as we travel our own creative paths.  

    In regards to the scene of this painting, this bar is in Barceloneta, a very cool barrio of Barcelona near the beach and port and Barrio Gotic.  Each bar seems to have its own personality, its own unique vitality.  When you move to a new area, one way to become part of the neighbourhood is to frequent the same bar and become a regular customer.  The bars have their different moments during the day:  morning when people stop for a cafe con leche y pan con tomate and maybe glance at the day's news; early afternoon when all work stops and it becomes a gathering for a glass of wine or beer and the menu of the day; and then later in the evening for a coffee and delicious pastry; and then still later when work has ended and it is time for wine and some tapas.  It is not the toros, flamenco, paella; the bar is the quintessential symbol of the culture in Spain.  

    September 23..........Manuel en evolución

    Oil on canvas 8x8 in.
    Started late in day yesterday and will try to finish today.  I am enjoying using a more limited palette (ultramarine blue, yellow medium, alizarin crimson, titanium white, orange oxide transparent; the last color was substituted by the Barcelona online art store that I ordered paint tubes from because they didn't have red oxide, which I wanted to try)

    September 22..........The Weight/Wait of Life

    Oil on canvas 10x8 in.
    Her nose is too long, the inner shadows of her chin need work, the eyes are not equal, and there's no way she can hear out of that ear, but I'm leaving her just as she is.

    September 21..........Peso de la Vida

    Oil on canvas 10x8 in.
    I delayed beginning a portrait in this challenge because it is difficult for me to render in just a few hours, not just logistically, technically, but emotionally I feel more vested.  I experimented with a blue underpainting and it immediately lent itself to this type of existential pathos that occurs to all of us.  I will hopefully finish it tomorrow.

    September 20..........Puesta del Sol La Jolla

    Oil on canvas 7x9.5 in.
    One of my favorite places on this little planet of ours, La Jolla, California

    September 18..........Meme's Crystal and Dish Towel

    Oil on canvas 9.5x7 in.
    My Belgian grandmother was a collector of beautiful objects that she never used.  They were possessions that unfortunately possessed her.  It was how she was raised; it was a different time.  I know she would be very pleased that some of them still exist, just enjoyed in a different way.

    September 16..........Campo de Colza de Begur

    Oil on canvas 9.5x7 in.
    You will be driving in Spain and your eye is captivated by huge fields of chartreuse yellow.  It's not sunflower season.  Is it mustard?  No.  It's fields of canola and it is absolutely breathtaking.

    September 15..........Scooter Man

    Oil on canvas 9.5x7 in.
    This was really fun.  I participated in the Virtual Paint Out on Bill Guffey's website 
    and this month's location to find a site to paint is Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.  I have never
     been to that part of the United States and, oh, what lovely countryside it has!
    The Google camera car surprised this Amish man on his scooter or maybe it's the other way around.  

    September 14..........Arboles en Evolución

    Oil on canvas 9.5x7 in.
    I am intrigued by the sun spreading its luminous glow over the trees at sunset and here is my attempt to capture it.  Looking at it posted here, I want to darken the sky to bring forth the colors in the trees.  Next time....... 

    September 12..........Arboles en Evolución

    Oil on canvas 9.5x7 in.
    Well, I promised myself no matter what happened today I would post something.  So here we are.  My intention when I commenced this was to capture the light of the sunset on the branches.  Alas, there is a rainstorm coming after weeks of stifling heat and it is cloudy.  Wednesday is supposed to be sunny and the skies will be hopefully amazing after the rain and aid me in painting a glorious sunset finish.

    September 9..........Art Impromptu

    I did not post either of these to the Saeta challenge, but I feel good that I did sketch while I was at the marina today of El Rompido, looking northwest towards the little fishing village.  There was a low tide so I was able to sit for a while in the sand and sketch.  I need to plan when to come and set up my easel for a plein air moment here.  The white-washed buildings and lighthouse would make a perfect painting.  The second picture is the beginnings of a painting en plein air in my backyard.  The sunset lit the trees with a beautiful reddish light and by the time I blocked in, the light was gone.  Hopefully tomorrow I can catch it.

    September 8..........A La Piscina

    Oil on canvas 9.5x7 in.
    Heat has let up a bit today, but still the pool is where to be.  I painted the background first because on such a small canvas I have difficulty not resting my hand on it.  The Greek design on inside of pool wall was problematic, but I learned that next time I will tackle such a detail when underpainting is dry.  I am now going to stretch out on one of those chairs.

    September 7..........Rosa Rosada

    Oil on canvas 9.5x7 in
    Still record breaking heat today in Spain, 103 degrees.  Placed myself in shade of porch and painted for a couple of hours.  

    September 5..........Jardin El Rincon

    Oil on canvas 9.5 x 7in
    It is 41 degrees Celsius today (105.8 F!!!!).  I woke up early to catch the morning light entering this part of the garden and to avoid the heat later on.  In hindsight I wish I had kept it simpler, maybe focusing merely on the fountain.

    September 4..........Rose Canyon Evolving

    Oil on canvas board 12x16 in
    While still living in San Diego I did the below block-in en plein air of Rose Canyon.  I did not have time to finish or to go back, and yesterday with no reference to look at I decided to work on it.  There's little logic existing here, but it was fun to paint/play. 

    September 3..........La Flecha

    Oil on panel  11x14 in

    This is from a photo I took, fishermen preparing to go out to sea.  They seemed amused that I took their picture.  The land in background is a unique stretch of 13 kilometres of sand formed parallel to the coast that separates the waters of the Atlantic Ocean with the Rio Piedras.  On the other side of the trees is a virgin white sand beach and the only official nudist beach in Huelva province.  Now that would be fun to paint!  

    Painting from a photograph is frustrating.  In art school I would get annoyed when a model moved or a still life was changed.  I thought when working one day on my own I will have the luxury of using photographs all the time.  But you can't judge values, shapes, colors.  You are constantly making decisions based on guesses and memories, and more importantly, unless you paint the subject soon after snapping the photo, your direct link to that moment has been broken and you have forgotten what inspired you in the first place.

    September 2..........El Portil

    Oil on canvas 18x24 cm
     One of my goals this month is to paint some seascapes.  This painting is from the sand dunes closest to where we live, and in the background is El Portil, a small town in southern Spain that is nearly uninhabited for all the months of the year except July and August when people come to escape the high summer temperatures.  It is a bit off the beaten tourist track and mostly enjoyed by the Spanish on holiday who want it to remain a secret.  

    September 1..........Apricots from Albufeira

    Oil on canvas 18x24cm

    Portugal's border is 20 minutes from where we live, and we drove an hour further to the beach town of Albufeira.  On the pathway down to the beach was an elderly woman with a fruit stand selling these delicious fruits.

    Proustian Memory

    Years ago while exploring the sierras of Huelva, Spain, I found myself in Linares.  This pueblo of 300 inhabitants is of Moorish origin and its streets are famous for the "llanos," tiles usually of blue and white depicting heralds, floral, or animals.  Grass grows between the cobblestones and in places appears as a lush green carpet.  At the time I was in my early 20s.  In my 30s I returned and my two-year-old son played in the water trough that is in the main plaza.  Recently made the trek to this tiny enclave "a la recherché du temps" and tried to capture it in paint.