More on my artistic side.

I would like to share some of my paintings and drawings.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Grand Portage, Minnesota.......

Another older painting to share with  you today.  I painted this in the summer of 1992 in oils.  The scene is a large opening overlooking Lake Superior.  The tepee was there but the rest came from imagination. 

Grand Portage is one of the last towns at the top of Minnesota on the North Shore.  It is Indian Reservation Territory and there is a recreated structure of the actual fort or trading post that sat there.  The mountains to the left are sitting on a projection of land that helps to make that curved shape of the states form.

I won't critique my own work with this one, but as an art teacher I can see that I have three different paintings that could have been cropped out of this painting.

I find myself evaluating my older work to help me to improve on my work. Composition is important and in each of the three cropped photos you can see different things take on  different importance.  It may be the tepee, or the tree, or the sky itself. In many ways the foreground of the original work could have been deleted and the painting could have been painted on the horizontal.

The addition of a sea gull would help any balance problems created by cropping.  I will leave it all alone and maybe I can start a new painting perfecting the painting that was done 18 years ago.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Computer Design.............

As a computer graphics design instructor,  I had to develop creative projects that encouraged student to learn the different tools of a design program.  This quilt design is actually two captured squares from a photo of a hot air balloon.  The two shapes were cut and pasted into this quilt design.  I have a lot of different creations of mine I will share as I get them downloaded.  They are archived on CDs.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The lost farm..........

This is a watercolor I painted a few years back as a commission.  The farm belonged to my client's family and it was destroyed for the making of a lake here in Iowa.  The land itself became a waterway and is not under water today.  As an artist one tends to paint tightly to depict all the details that the person wants, more that to make a painterly work.  I painted in the tractor and the old family car to  make sure they could identify with the place.  In reality I am sure the buildings were not well painted and the house probably needed a coat of paint.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Rooster, first and only one.............

Chickens have become a popular theme for decoration on all sorts of domestic items.  I think the fad has been around for over 15 years now. I really like some of the painted platters with roosters as  the design. 
Back in 1994 I tried my hand at doing a rooster from a photo using pastel pencils.  The actual artwork is a lot weathered as it has been at school with me for quite some time and it has been squeezed in a file which rubs some of the pastel around.  I think I should sit down and give it a reviving in texture and clear color.
When I was a kid we had only white chickens.  One year I asked my mom why we didn't have a rooster and she said we would save one back.  That meant that when she bought her 150 boiler chickens to raise from chicks in the spring, she would butcher all of them but one.  This was the time when they had not hybridized them so much that they did have definite traits of being either a hen or rooster. 
That rooster was a terrorists as he protected his hens and would try to gouge me with is talens which were large and were very sharp.  Hens were never threatening but this guy protected his flock.  I am sure one day in the fall while I was at school my mom had dad take off his head and we eventually ate him.  The parents were good about eating things that got to be sick or a nuisance.
I would like to venture into drawing roosters and rabbits, different kinds of small animals.  Being a farm boy at heart I could even stand to paint a pig or two. 
I thought I would share this oldie with you again until I get free to start again to do fresh new artwork. Thanks for stopping by at my artspot.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Paradise Beach.........

This is a beach along Lake Superior that is made up of small stones rather than sand. It is just north of Grand Marais, Minnesota.  It is still a public beach as a few miles north it becomes Indian Reservation. Beach is an exaggeration as the water is too cold to swim and the drop off is severe in just a few feet out.
The island is at a distance and the sea gulls have a rookery out there each year.  It is noisy as the sea gull parents are busy bringing in food for the chicks.
The painting was done in acrylic and is on a canvas panel 12" by 24."
When we visit this area we allow our small dog to run freely as it is away from the highway.  He just loves to tear around the beach and stick his nose into the water.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cascade Falls, Minnesota.........

I removed this old watercolor from it's frame today and thought I would share it with you.  It was painted while sitting on the Lake Superior shore near Cascade Falls.  It was 1989 and I was just a baby at painting in plein air with watercolor.  I know that I took this back at a later date and worked on it in the studio.  I love some of the parts but I was so tight and overworked everthing to make it more like an illustration.  I don't paint watercolors like this anymore but I thought it would be fun to share it anyway.

I labored over these seagulls as I really like to have the wildlife included in a painting.  My grasses and weeds seem pretty spontaneous and the sand textures are good.  The rocks are certainly solid rock in the shapes that I created.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Slow to promote......

As a followup to the mural story, my wife and I gave a phone interview about the painting of the mural. We were able to meet an editor of the county newspaper during a Friends and Neighbor parade and he took our names down for a later article in their paper.   The county paper places the local news of a certain town on the front page of that towns edition and a neighboring town may never see the article. It helps to sell papers as it probably will be the only article about something going on in Woodward and the rest will be the larger town's news.

A very nice college student called and we helped her with the interview process telling of what is involved for two people to paint a mural with a specific historic time.  We sent her pictures as they didn't have any and we shared the details of how the depot had been restored the past two years.

My wife and I were asked to help illustrate a book for a local women who had written a book of poetry.  It was called  I Will Meet my Maker in Bluejeans.  I was reminded of the painting that I created for her many years ago and wanted to share it with you.  It is a water color that has been painted with thick watercolor  on watercolor paper.  It was an illustration for one of her poems and I felt I needed to work the paint thicker to get the detail I needed to get the glowing sunset effect.

I was reminded about this all because the local PBS stations are running programs today about Iowa's one room school houses and the salvaging of the barns in the state of Iowa.  The barns are being torn down because they are not being used or that they have fallen in from decay. The country schools that exist are 200.  There had been over 12,000 schools in Iowa at one time and the state forced them to be closed in 1966.

It would be fun to paint an old school house but I need to find one that is still standing in my area. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Woodward Community School....A visual memory of a building..........

Woodward Community School 
Woodward, Iowa

This is a print of a drawing that I created a few years back.  When the building had been torn down I was saddened to see such a building with architectural detail being removed from history.  It had some structural problems but in this country so few of these buildings are still standing. 

The architects of the time were all trained with classical ideas and even in the small town of Woodward,  a building would be created with prestigious design. The cupola itself duplicates many that can be seen in Italy and France.  This cupola didn't last many years as the high winds that cross the prairie in Iowa are strong and it was lifted and strewn on the ground in 1922. The mouldings and Roman arches are so classical in design and one can see those similarly designed throughout Europe.

The bottom basement like casing around the building mimics the buildings in Venice as well as many structures in European countries.  The pediment over the door comes from the design used on the Parthenon in Greece.

The corner decorations are still used to day, copying Palladio's architecture of the past.  We have an entire mall that has been today required to have Palladio's influence in it's design.

When the building was first built it was an elementary through high school building.  Initially the basement was not finished and the kids would go down there and play recess on a dirt floor.  By the time I started teaching in the building in 1976 the bottom floor was finished and turned into shower rooms, restrooms, boiler room, the main office and the bottom right back corner was a small classroom.  I taught it that room for four years.

I have been selling these prints for a number of years and in fact put them away for a while awaiting a new audience.  Some students remark that the building gave them bad memories and others would remember the pranks they could pull because of the central stairway.

I am glad that I have created a drawing of this building as it deserves to be remembered in all it's glory.  Sadly we tear things down in this country with only a life span of 84 years.

If any person is interested in purchasing a print of this building they may send me an email.  The black and white print is 12" by 16" and costs $25.  That will cover the cost for shipping and Iowa sales tax in the price.  The color print is a hand tinting of the black and white version and each has it's own special treatments to make it unique.  The cost for the tinted print is $40 which includes shipping and tax.

Inquires can be made, questions can be answered by, and purchases can be arranged by clicking on the below name.   I will accept checks,  money orders and also can do PayPal for any purchase.  

Larry's Artspot  Sales

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A commissioned work........

A year before the trolley mural was even a hint of an idea, the one who commissioned me to do this work had a vision of what this should look like.  It is a drawing of him looking out to see the trolley as it was coming into town.  He is the little boy in the drawing and he remembers standing there watching it with the whirling sound that an electric train would make.  It was in 1933 and he liked going into the garden to watch the show.

The actual resource picture that I had was a small 3 by 4 inch photo, not clear and it was lacking contrast and detail.  The rest was left to my knowledge of what I see when I look across my west side of the house across the field.  It is the same field, but the photo is south a few hundred yards.  The little boy is actually his own son standing out in the yard looking towards a train going by his house.

A year later, he and his friend thought of the idea to have a mural painted. That trolley was to represent the earlier years around 1906 when the route was first established. The little boy represented in the photo is the older gentleman below in the photo with me installing the mural. Russ is his name and he and I can talk history back and forth until the cows come home.  I really enjoy his friendship.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One last fix.......

My wife and I returned to the depot one last time to install a couple of strips of oak trim. The wall was not square and the top and bottom showed that, so we put on a trim to cover the gaps.  The older gentleman is Russ who commissioned the work of my wife and me with the towns money.  I later returned and washed windows in a large part of the building trying to bring it up to spec for Saturday's viewing and the town celebration. We had been away from it for about a week and we were pleased with our results when we saw it again.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Older artwork deframed..........

Lake Michigan, watercolor, 1989

My wife and I have a framing business that we are trying to close down. When we don't want to make a 30 mile trip to pick up glass, when we are on a deadline, we will salvage glass off of framed work of the past.   
This watercolor was painted back in 1989 when my wife and I took an artist painters tour around Lake Superior and down the side of the east side of Lake Michigan.  This painting was done on the shore of the lake and then was reworked in the studio.  My skills of watercolor have improved a lot since them but I find it still and interesting rendition.

Shovel Point, Lake Superior North Shore, oil pastel

This has no date on it but it is about 10 years old, as was painted on the rocky shore of Superior.  The formation is wonderful with varied colors and textures. I really like to work in oil pastel as it is more like working with an oil stick. This is a beautiful location but one has to hike down a steep hill to get to the sight.  The shovel point area is also a great hike one can take that follows that incline to the shore.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Installed and walking away......

I have to return and put in two molding pieces top and bottom to cover the edges.  I will  need to dust it off and then spray it one more time, for the last time, with kamar varnish. It has been a successful project and we are very pleased with it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mural is completed........

We finished this, my wife and I on Monday.  Today it is being hung and we will walk away from a huge project.  We are war weary but we are pleased with the results.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting closer to the end........

Miles to go before I sleep.........

Friday, July 2, 2010

Another peek......

Here is a sneak peek of the restored 1906 depot here in Woodward.  The trolley system extended to downtown Des Moines and it is written that they had a trolley make seven trips a day.  I have posted parts of the mural on the net before but really don't want to show you much until it gets in a more completed state.

Here is a early preliminary view of it as we have added so many things since this was photographed. The can and box are there to give us an idea of what things should look like if we painting things into the foreground.  It will be a mural on the inside of the building and it is to appear that you are looking out to see the trolley is waiting for yourself to get on board.
We did change the windows from the sketch below as both of the trolley's had different window treatments.  We have a photo of the windows with the curved portion above the two windows and the trolley is sitting at the depot in Woodward.   More to come.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A sneak peek.....

My wife and I are painting a six foot square mural to be placed in the old interurban train depot here in town. Needless to say, it is overwhelming and we have painted off the first sketch and redrawn it back on again. The rough look of what I am doing with the train wheels is just exactly that, rough sketch. I had to find how all these parts look and I really need to know how they work before I can draw. I even looked at my toy train set to see how the depicted them. The springs drawn above do look like sausages but I was just quickly placing shapes in to get a feel for size. We lay this board down on our counter and work on it and sometimes we stand it up.  Della is doing the sky right now with it standing up.  I am going to buy carpenter's tape before I move on with the trolley paint.   We have a lot of various historic items to place on the dock in front of the trolley and that will be the last of our painting.

We are moving along slowly because of the size of it. My wife and I have painted many murals for our church promotions for missions so we work well together on it.  We both know that paintings just develop and the quality comes from layers of paint and value study. We have more than this painted but it still is in the kindergarten stage so I will not show it to you. When I quit cringing when I look at it I know we are getting closer to the real thing.

Update today, June 9th, we just painted this over with gesso and we are going to start again for the third time.  I found a resource photo that is closer to the photo of a trolley in our Woodward Centennial Book.  It is a classy looking thing and I can see details of the actual trolley. I don't have to guess what is where and how big that it all is. Redrawing it on the board this evening.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Minnestoa Shoreline on Lake Superior......

This is an acrylic painting that was done while sitting on the shore of Lake Superior.  My wife and I use to sit for hours at a time painting that wonderful North Shore.

Friday, April 23, 2010

1986 Woodduck .............

When my wife and I married in 1984, I knew she was a non stop painter.  Mostly she painted portraits at that time.  As a school teacher, I had my summer break each year and by the second summer, she had me painting along with her, in Minnesota.  We lived in a very small rustic cabin along Lake Pokegama, and the boys were probably 7 and 10 in age.  They were out and about and we sat at drawing tables and worked four or five hours day.  We sat in front of a bank of windows overlooking the lake rain or shine.

I painted this Woodduck in oils, just to see if I could pull it off. I had never painted any birds before this one.  I had found a small picture, 4 by 6 inches, to look at from an old National Geographic and I just started painting.  It is in actual size a 16 by 20 inch painting.  I never sold it and I am glad that I didn't. It is one of my favorite ducks and favorite paintings.  Some people get confused about the one leg but it was resting it's other flipper, tucking it under it's wing.

At the time I painted it, an artist, Robert Bateman, a very famous  Canadian wildlife artist, was doing so well in the print business.  He was painting so many different animals and birds. He was an inspiration to me and the background and foreground with plants, remind me that I was studying his  work, as they look like what you see in his paintings. He is 20 years older than be and is still painting today.

I haven't touched a paint brush for a few weeks now but I will be working on a mural with my wife soon as we want to get that accomplished by the end of May.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A painting from my past.

I am very frustrated for not being free enough to get any painting done. I was finishing one to two paintings a week for awhile then it all stopped.
This is a painting I created one summer while I was in Minnesota.  It is acrylic on a smooth panel.  I always thought I would return to it and place an animal in the front right side.  As I have lived with it I really like the vacant feeling and the style of the whole painting.  It is so clean and simple in style and I tend to go to opposite extreme with too much detail. Maybe a chicken or a sheep would work there, huh?
I will continue to share other paintings of my past until I get myself back on  a painting on canvas schedule instead of painting  bathroom walls.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Maine along the Atlantic coast.......

I have not completed this. I wanted to show you where it is at in it's progression. I need to do more painting  until I can look at and not find anything else to correct.  I may let it sit for a few weeks and then return to it.
I have had a lot of distractions that have kept me from painting.  I really want to sit down and do something spontaneously and I have not been able to do that either.  My retirement means I should have moved away from the area as to be able to go into seclusion. Thanks for stopping in and following my creative journey.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Maine progress

I have been distracted from getting any painting done at all. I finally was able to sit down for a morning and work on this.  It is a scene from along the coast of Mt. Dessert Island, near Bar Harbor.  I will be working on values of color in this to bring it together to further completion.  I know that there will be seagulls eventually coming in for a landing in the painting.  I had worked on this quite a few days ago, and one really has to get reacquainted with what you are doing before things start to go well.  I will post the finished version soon.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Small barn...

The reasons for smaller barns to be built were probably varied. In the town that I live, the first properties built all had each small barns to house the cow for milk and the horse for the buggy. My neighbor's and my own property had barns built across the street from each other. I still have the foundation to that barn on my lot. The last barn standing in this town was torn down a year ago. It was a block up the street from where I live.

Another reason for small barns was probably economy. It was all one small farmer could afford and build on his own while scraping out a living off of the land. Some farms today in Iowa have both their small barn standing and also a larger one that was built later. 

Spring on the prairie can be like a flower garden with the wild plum  trees blooming and the early plants with flowers.  This farm is not abandoned but is not in use.  The need for a small barn for the horse is gone.  Storing loose hay is outdated and a retired farmer can only view the scene of the past and remember. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Farm boy artist is out of control......

I like to photograph and view my piece via computer just to see the flaws.  I am not done with this and yet I am close to it. I don't think I have ever done a painting where I have painted in and painted out so many times on it.  The color for this isn't great as my lighting was poor.  I am working on finishing the foreground.  Tomorrow maybe will be the day to stop working on it. I can see now something else is going to be painted out, or I have to add something so it makes sense. Later!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Another barn!!!!!

Another one in the works.  I have to get out of this rut. I wanted to show you how it looked and who knows where I will be taking it. I am spending a lot of time evaluating what I am doing and why. If I were to put it in the background farther back, the viewer would not expect so much detail.
I will work on it today and may give it a rest and start something that isn't a barn.  Have a good weekend.
If I throw an abstract at you it might shock you.  Maybe an impressionistic still life.  Stay tuned.....

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I reworked this for the last time. It had to better define the overlapping petals of the flower and I finished the final coat of acrylic paint on the background. I messed with the leaves but I won't go back to ever again.   I started another barn painting today which is going quickly.  I tried to loosen up on my style of painting but I am not sure that I have moved far from my set ways.  I will post it tomorrow after spending the morning working on it.  Thanks for all of your kind words and appreciation of my journey.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tulip in the works.....

A tulip painting in acrylic on a 8 by 10 canvas.  I don't have a solid good photo of this, but I wanted to share where it standing at this point. I am happy with it, but struggled yesterday. I painted in a lot of informal foliage at the bottom yesterday and I painted it all out in black by late afternoon.
With any subject matter,  you have to learn how to visualize what you actually see.  I had to dig out a seed catalog and find some reference photo of actual tulip leaves. That did help a lot.  I will let it set over the weekend and go back in a fine tune it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In progress....

 This is a pretty rough looking painting, but I wanted to show you how these things take a lot of thought and time.  It is a Rembrandt tulip.  It has to be better defined and the background will be started tomorrow. I have always been fascinated with this kind of tulip as well as with parrot tulips.  I hope that I can bring it around into more than just a spot on the canvas with a diverse deep colored background of tulip leaves.

Monday, February 22, 2010



As I painted this work I was using all of my past memories of seeing farms in northern Iowa with their rolling hills. The barns are all dated if they still are standing at all. The wild plum trees line the fence rows, putting out great early blossoms then becoming an Iowa fencerow shrub. The fences are overgrown with new plants and the livestock are being grown in large feeder lot pens in Nebraska so they are gone. The painting could be in western Nebraska, South Dakota and also southern Minnesota. Our border's lines don't erase our similarities.  I will tweak it one more time after it has dried in and that I have been away from it for awhile.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Painting in my Past......

This is a painting that I created many years ago. I am researching thatched roof houses and will try to create a newer version of a cottage garden and house.
It will be interesting to see how my style and skills have developed  from experience and more mature visual awareness.  All artist are in continue development of what they see around them and how they represent it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Posted as done, but......

I have a couple of quick tweaks yet and then it will stand as is.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Silo evolution...

I said good bye to the front fence today as I thought it was too much becoming the center of interest. I am getting close to being done with this. There is a little tweaking that needs to be done and one last go over of the color balance.  I had a red roof on the little building to the right and somehow it is gone. I will bring it back. I may put a few more small farm things around on the ground.  I am getting to be quite happy with it. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Still in progress......

 I haven't posted lately as I have been struggling with this painting. I am finding a soul in this one but am going to put it aside for a couple of days. I need to get some space from it.  I need to put clouds back into the picture and to study some of my color values and their relationship to each other. I blocked in foliage quickly and will probably rework it but wanted to have something in the foreground to see the balance of things.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A second painting in progress.....

I don't always do this, but sometimes it is best to have a couple paintings going at a time. It is so you can return to one and be more objective about what you are doing. I have read about artists who have up to ten paintings going at the same time.  It works better if you are working in oil as sometimes it just plain needs to dry out so you can get back into it.  My wife has to take days off sometimes to get any work done, as oil tends to absorb the colors layer to layer.

I am being brave here showing you a start of a painting, but I know that it interests you all.  It is a rough start and I don't have a handle on the color tone of the picture.  One just needs to block it all in to get the canvas white covered.

Day two on this work and I am getting a good grasp as to where I want this to go.  I still have some over intense colors that comes with acrylic paint.  One has to work hard to tone down such bright colors that are in the tubes.  I worked on the foreground just the past hour and I am so pleased with it. I will put in a few stray weeds and sticks and that part is done.  Again as with my Ragatta painting,  I am sensing a balance problem in the composition.  It will probably call for some wild plum bushes or trees somewhere on the right side.  I will get to that once I get the fresh plowed field to the correct color.

I really do want to finish up the painting with the barn and silo.  I may pick it up tomorrow and work on it again.  Thanks for checking in on my work in progress. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ragatta, Assembling to Race....

I just reworked this painting to it's completion.  I had painted it a few months back and I knew I was going to have to rework it.  I had it hung on the wall with completed paintings but it bothered me. I now can say I have finished it.  

My wife and I like visiting the North Shore of Minnesota, and as a couple of land locked Iowans, we are so fascinated with the racing of the sailboats on Lake Superior.  I really like the patterns of the sails against the blue of the water. 

This is an acrylic painting painted on a 10" by 20" canvas.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Painting Is Started....

I have become motivated to get some paintings started. This blog is for the sake of selling my artwork but also for you to see things in progress.  Artist are human and even though we possess skills that will make it easier for some than others to paint, we still have to flounder around in the water, to complete a painting.

I started this painting out as a silo being the center of interest with a nice sky to make it stand out. I added buildings, imaginary, and then fence post are coming up out of the ground. There was a balance problem that I created, because I was lazy and didn't sketch it out first.  Another building had to be added on the right side and I am getting closer to the end.  I want to add a lot of simple details, the thing that takes it away from abstract to a little closer to impressionism.  It won't be that, but I am not a super realist. 

I must solve the problem of making grass that looks natural and not a color from out of the tube. I studied some pictures today on tv and in a book and grass can almost be orange on a sunny day.  I will work on my color values and how they relate to each other and the finished work will be done.