Friday, December 31, 2010

One and a Half Pairs

One and a Half Pairs, 6 x 8

A rarity from me lately--a still life. I've promised a dear friend I'd do three still lifes for her and I'm way overdue. Way, way overdue. So I'll be warming up on still lifes here and there for a while.

Happy New Year to all of you--I'm sincerely grateful to have you all follow and subscribe to my blog--it's a tremendous source of encouragement and community for me. And today my husband and I celebrate 18 years of marriage--a perfect way to end the year. I wish you all the best in 2011!

-julie davis

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So We Meet Again

So We Meet Again, 6 x 8

The way properties adjoin each other is one of the little tidbits I find interesting along the roads. Green grass can abut a field of golden flowers that can meet up with simple red dirt or a field full of cacti or cedars or oaks or all three. I liked the way the green shoulder here met with the wheat colored grass and muted flowers.

-julie davis

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunset on Lake Travis

Sunset on Lake Travis, 6 x 8

It feels like a month since I've posted--I had to put my blog on hold for a while leading up to the holidays. I think I'd have been more prolific, but various viruses combined to knock me down twice in the last two weeks, plus Christmas and family--and there was no time at all to paint.

I did paint today--and wiped it down each time--four times altogether! That's to be expected, I think, after so much time off. The painting above is one I just gave my niece. I hadn't published it yet, though I did post the two studies from our Plein Air Austin sunset paint out that inspired it. My sweet 4th-grade niece (who loves to paint) admired it this week, and I couldn't resist giving it to her. And as the year winds down, it seemed a sunset painting was appropriate to post.

I'll do my best to post this week. I'm closing in on 200 paintings again this year and would love to hit that mark. Enjoy the remainder of the holidays--and a happy new year to you all!

-julie davis

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Cinco, 6 x 8

My girls all take Spanish in school, and our middle daughter tends to intersperse bits of it into our conversation pretty often (which is good because it helps me learn Spanish, too). This painting was going to be named "Five," but at the last moment, the Spanish word for "five" felt right. I have to attribute that to her influence. :)

-julie davis

Monday, December 6, 2010

Old Farmhouse

Old Farmhouse, 6 x 8

A great deal of what draws me to paint landscapes is the history that is woven into much of the land in which we live daily. Many farms have old outbuildings, barns, and even farmhouses that now sit abandoned. I'm always excited to find them and can't help but ponder what went on in them when they were full of life.

-julie davis

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shady Crowd

Shady Crowd, 8 x 6

On my way to Hunt last weekend I spotted this group of cattle under a shady tree--they appeared so content. I stopped and took a photo and worked from that and memory for this 8 x 6.

-julie davis

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Photos from the Wendow show

What a treat it was to be a part of last night's show at Wendow. The store looked beautiful, was filled with art by three local artists (me included), and the turnout was fantastic. If you're anywhere in the neighborhood, stop by and see what's in the store--it's one of my favorite spots in Austin, and not just because they carry my art!

The pics are of some of the pieces on the walls--the last is of my dear pal Laurel Daniel and me during the show. Thanks to all who stopped by--your support is always appreciated!

-julie davis

Monday, November 29, 2010

Road Through the Field

Road Through the Field, 6 x 8

I hope everyone had a wonderful few days off and an enjoyable Thanksgiving. I feel so fortunate to have spent time in the Hill Country with our kids and my husband and his family--I don't think all the cousins could have had a better time together. We have much for which to give thanks.....

Today we hung the paintings for the show at Wendow here in Austin! Everything looks great, and I'm looking forward to Wednesday night's opening. It lasts from 6 p.m. til 9 p.m.--please come by if you're in Austin! There will be two other artists showing--my friend, Kendall Pace, and a new friend, Betty Sewell.

-julie davis

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Golden Banks

Golden Banks, 9 x 12 in.

This is the last of the pieces I did before I began framing this week. I hope to get back to painting this weekend, but as Thanksgiving approaches, my do-to list outside the painting realm grows exponentially. We'll see. I aim to have my show pieces ready so I'll just have last minute duties to check off my list after Thanksgiving.

-julie davis

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Northern California Fall

Northern California Fall, 6 x 8

I really had fun with this one. There aren't many pine trees around Central Texas, so I'd never painted them before. I have to say--they're quite fun to paint and I love the darks and pointy edges. :)

-julie davis

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winding Creek

Winding Creek, 6 x 8

I love the grasses around here in the fall. They're full and wheat-colored and move with the breeze.

I'm busily preparing for a three-woman show that opens Dec. 1 here in Austin at Wendow Fine Living. I've got everything ready to frame and will work on that this week....then must be ready for Thanksgiving, as my husband and I are hosting his family this year. Gotta finish!

(If you're in Austin on Dec. 1, please stop by from 6-9. Wendow is located at 1512 W. 35th St. Cutoff). I'd love to see you!

-julie davis

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunset Study 2

Sunset Study 2, 6 x 8

This is the second of the two I painted on Thursday night at our PAA paintout. The sun was so close to down at this point, the colors had mellowed quite a bit from the previous painting.

-julie davis

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunset Study

Sunset Study, 6 x 8

This week Plein Air Austin met at one of our member's homes on Lake Travis for a sunset paintout. Never having painted a sunset before, I was impressed by how much more quickly the sun sets when one is attempting to paint it! I believe it's a more challenging process than the typical plein air painting experience--we're always capturing a moment in "light" time, but in a sunset, one must chose the minute and really stick to it. The show changes so rapidly, and every moment is so enticing that it's easy to chase the light.

I did two paintings in about 35-40 minutes, and in addition to being blinded by the reflections on the water, I was seeing spots, and the darkening sky made it difficult to see my paints! I felt like I was slapping paint down and wasn't even sure what colors I was using. All this said, it was a ton of fun, and we all enjoyed pizza and a glass of wine afterward--a well-deserved reward for all the work!

-julie davis

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wimberly Ranch

Wimberly Ranch, 9 x 12

I'm always focused improving on a particular technique or subject while painting. I'm not sure when that stops and one can simply paint with abandon.... Today I again was exploring foreground. I did learn a few things, or at least had an "aha" moment or two.

-julie davis

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gray Morning

Gray Morning, 6 x 8

The last post or two I've worked with keeping my value range tighter than usual. I'm working on gray days, and it's hard for me, because I'm most often drawn to darks in paintings. It definitely creates a mood to keep the values more closely tied to each other, whether it's a gray day or bright or nearly dark.....all good times to reduce your value range.

-julie davis

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Valley Farm

Valley Farm, 8 x 6

As much as I love painting the Texas Hill Country, it's always fun to paint a different area of the country. California has an entirely different feel--both in light and topography. A hazy day in October is when I was there last, and this little farm caught my attention.

-julie davis

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Summer Afternoon Rain

Summer Afternoon Rain, 9 x 12

Today's post is one I've been wanting to paint since some of us traveled to Bryan, Texas last summer for a Plein Air Austin event. We stopped at Lake Somerville, and I painted another scene that day, while everyone else painted this view. I took reference photos, and just gathered the courage to give it a shot.

FYI, the palette knife touches I'm using in these last few pieces seems busier on the computer screen than it does in person--something I'm beginning to notice and am not sure how to correct, except to put it out there.

-julie davis

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Morning on the Lake

Morning on the Lake, 9 x 12

If you're lucky enough to enjoy a morning on a lake, then you know what a beautiful time of day it can be. In Calvin Liang's workshop last week, we met at Cypress Point Park on Lake Travis the last day. I painted this today from a field sketch I did that day.

-julie davis

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunlit Grove

Sunlit Grove, 12 x 16

This is a larger version of a post a week or more back called "Field Guides." I lowered the horizon line and played with things a bit and am very happy with how this one came out.

The Rogue Valley runs through southern Oregon, and these trees are down in the valley beneath Weisinger's Winery in Ashland. I did take some artistic license and reduce the size of the mountains--they're gorgeous, but too much for this composition.

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lake Travis Peninsula

Lake Travis Peninsula, 9 x 12

Today in Calvin's workshop, we met at The Oasis, an Austin restaurant on Lake Travis. The Oasis is huge, with many levels of decks that overlook a western view of the lake, making it a perfect place to view the sunset. We weren't there for sunset, but this morning we captured this view of a peninsula that juts out into the lake.

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Color

Fall Color, 9 x 12

Last week, my friend Laurel Daniel and I went out to McKinney Falls here in Austin to paint. Fall is finally showing up here, and I took the opportunity to paint some of the color.

Calvin Liang's workshop met today at Highland Lakes Marina on Lake Travis. I didn't get home in time to get a photo and post from today, but will hope to catch up tomorrow.

-julie davis

Monday, October 25, 2010

Anderson Mill Study

Anderson Mill Study, 12 x 9

Working on 5 hours of sleep, today I started a plein air workshop here in Austin with Calvin Liang. Having spent an unplanned TEN hours in the San Francisco airport Sunday due to weather delays, and getting to bed at 1 a.m. Monday morning, I was not as prepared as I had planned for the morning, and inconveniently left my tripod behind. I did retrieve it, but missed some valuable demo time!

Today we painted at the site of a replica of the Anderson Mill, a mill apparently used during the Civil War. It's a lovely subject to paint, and Calvin's demo was a joy to watch--following his painting with my own of the same subject was kind of a bummer! I like some aspects of this, but when I do a larger one in the studio I'll make some adjustments to the wall in the foreground--indicate more water, or include less of the wall....don't know yet. It was a great day, and I'm looking forward to the remainder of the week. Thanks to Qiang Huang for getting Calvin to Austin!

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Field Guides

Field Guides, 9 x 12

These trees are down in a valley in Ashland, Oregon below Weisinger's Winery. Every time I'm there I am so drawn to them, and how they're beautifully backlit by the sun. I'm hoping to do this one larger and work on the composition to some extent, but I really enjoyed this one.

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Bougainvillea, 8 x 6

Last Thursday, Plein Air Austin met at a local favorite Tex/Mex restaurant on Lake Travis to paint. The spot is known as The Oasis, and has tons of small vignettes to paint within the courtyard of the restaurant. After a wipedown of a larger scene, I settled on this bougainvillea in a pot--did a fast study and was out of there--for Austin, it was chilly, and in my shady spot, I was quite cold! I think it was something like 59 degrees. :) Now you know what a tough girl I am.

-julie davis

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Fields

Fall Fields, 9 x 12

This is the foreground exercise that I feel like I relied too heavily on my palette knife. The muted colors make it work, but I think the texture that the knife adds begins to lose its effect if it's everywhere. I definitely like it as a tool in creating an interesting foreground, though.

-julie davis

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Distant Farm

Distant Farm, 9 x 12

Part of the fun of working on foregrounds is getting to play in the paint near the bottom of the painting. A little thicker paint, a little looser palette knife work....

-julie davis

Friday, October 15, 2010

Field of Hay

Field of Hay, 9 x 12
donation to Vanguard School, Waco, Texas

As promised, here is another piece in which I gave myself a higher horizon line in order to force myself to develop the foreground. It may be obvious, but to convey depth, it's necessary to vary the colors--and often values--as the ground plane recedes. Not simply a constant lightening of the ground plane as it recedes, but a variation back and forth within the context of a general increase in value with distance.

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Sunblock, 6 x 8

This backlit tree and field is the first of a few paintings I've done lately in which I'm experimenting with textures and temperatures in foreground. It's something I'm finally growing into studying, if that makes any sense at all, and I'm often captivated by how other painters handle foregrounds in paintings. This is a teeny, tiny bit of foreground, but I figured I'd start small. :) I wasn't focused as much on composition, and I can tell it, but I had fun with my brush and palette knife in this one, and have found myself using my palette knife--perhaps relying on it? a little more--in the ones I'll post in the coming days.

-julie davis

Monday, October 11, 2010

California Road

California Road, 16 x 12

Again, working "larger." For me and many, time is the enemy when I paint. It's pretty easy to wedge an hour of painting time in every day--mostly. But fitting three to four hours of pure painting time is less so; it's usually a once a week occurrence at most. And more than four right now--forget it! That said, this is a 3 1/2 hour attempt from a 6 x 8 I've "grown up" to a 16 x 12 for my show. My post from October 1 is the smaller version.

-julie davis

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Morning Light

Morning Light, 12 x 16

Austin was hopping this weekend with the ACL (Austin City Limits) Music Festival. The weather was unbelievable --it just couldn't be better here right now. Perfect for plein air painting, too. :) This piece is a larger version of the painting I posted on September 21. I'm creating some larger works for a show I'll be a part of at Wendow in Austin starting December 1.

-julie davis

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hill Country View

Hill Country View, 9 x 12

I always love a vista as subject matter in a painting, but I don't find I enjoy actually painting them as much. This is probably because I get a huge kick out of expressing trees in paint, and in a vista, there just isn't much to a tree....

This is the color version of yesterday's post. I admit, this feels like I missed it on the values, which I kind of suspected after doing my value study, but forged ahead anyway. Now I know.

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Value Study - Hill Country Fields

Value Study - Hill Country Fields, 6 x 8

Another quick value study--when I say quick, I mean 20 minutes--not something I take a ton of time doing. I guess it's almost like a sketch in my sketchbook. I'm still finding it shows me whether I have a viable/striking painting idea, and if so, if/where I need to push anything lighter or darker in value. I don't see doing this every time I paint now, but it's teaching me some things and preventing some mistakes, and doesn't take much time at all.

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Out to Pasture

Out to Pasture, 12 x 16

Here is the color version of yesterday's post. I used a little larger panel than I normally do, which is a time challenge for me, since my painting and all-things-painting-related time is typically 2-3 hours at a time on the days I get to paint. I also paint alla prima, so it's finished when time is up! It keeps me from fussing around too much and helps when I'm painting outside because I'm accustomed to making painting decisions quickly. This one and "Hay Bales" will soon be heading west to Sedona for a stay at Windrush Gallery before hopefully finding homes.

-julie davis

Monday, October 4, 2010

Value Study - Out to Pasture

Value Study - Out to Pasture, 6 x 8

I'm still doing a value study every now and then before I launch into a larger full-color version of a painting. Until I see that I'm really nailing the values instinctively in these I think it's a good exercise for me. It's not only a good warm-up, but ensures I stay loose and draft a good composition as well. This one appears more sepia-toned because I took the photo inside tonight--it had gotten too dark outside by the time I got around to taking it.

-julie davis

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ocean Overlook

Ocean Overlook, 6 x 8
donation, Trinity Valley School, Ft. Worth, TX

In Frank Serrano's workshop at Weekend with the Masters, we painted on an overlook above Doheny State Beach, where a surfing competition was taking place. First lesson, simplify what you see.....therefore you see no surfers here. :) Frank Serrano is a fine painter and a relaxed teacher, and made the most of our day, keeping those of us who could stay later than required for an extra demo.

Judging the mass of color for the distant hills was much of our lesson in the morning. His demo was of this scene as well. He stressed constantly comparing colors and values--squinting to see the average color of each mass, opening your eyes to compare values. Getting the proper relationships between the three rows of hills wasn't as easy as it he made it look, but I think I got close.

-julie davis

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guardians of the Road

Guardians of the Road, 8 x 6

Every time I go to California, I fall in love with its trees. I think these tall ones are eucalyptus--someone correct me if I'm wrong. Majestic and bathed in warm California sun....

-julie davis

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hay Bales

Hay Bales, 9 x 12

And the color version.....I think doing this pushed my value contrast further in the end that if I hadn't done the study.

And my apologies that it's taken me a bit to report back on the Weekend with the Masters. I've been busy doing some technological housekeeping before I begin posting with Daily Painters Originals, and like any housekeeping, it takes time!!! But back to the Masters...

It was such fun to immerse myself in the art world for five days! I'm such a newcomer to all of it; no background in art--been painting for close to four it was such an education simply being with so many artists, the conversation, the panel discussions, the chance to meet so many artists I admire, and the opportunity to study with such fine teachers and alongside artists of every level. I felt like a child in a candy store! I took workshops with Frank Serrano, Camille Przewodeck, and Daniel Pinkham, not to mention the demo with Scott Christensen, and the many lectures I had the pleasure of attending.

So as of Friday I'll have work posted with DPO (if I've done my technological homework correctly). Visit the site. It's a great group and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

-julie davis

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grayscale Value Study 2

Grayscale Value Study 2, 9 x 12

As promised, here is another value study I did last week (this time in preparation for the color version). I was surprised at how much further (higher) I needed to push the ground plane value than my instincts told me. All a part of learning to see....

And the Weekend With the Masters was amazing! I can't wait to share what I learned and incorporate it. Just being immersed in the culture of the contemporary representational art world for a few days taught me more than I ever anticipated. More tomorrow--I hit the ground running today and will have time to write more then.

-julie davis

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Early Light

Early Light, 6 x 8

Here's the color version of yesterday's post. Remember, I did this one outside, and went back and did the value study because I wanted to see the difference it would make in the range of values I used. I also corrected what I thought were some drawing issues in the second one. I think there is a more dramatic range in the black and white study--now if I'd just do it again in color!

Tomorrow I'm heading out to CA for the Weekend with the Masters workshop, so I won't be posting for a few days. I can't wait and will have much to cover when I return I'm sure.

On another happy note, I'm thrilled I've been asked to join the Daily Painters Originals group! I'll begin posting with them sometime after I return from my trip and can focus on that. Thanks to all the members of DPO for the warm welcome!

-julie davis

Monday, September 20, 2010

Value Study

Value Study, 9 x 12

My approach to this was backwards. I painted a full color version of this scene first, then realized that I hadn't pushed the values enough in it and decided to "go back" do a black and white value study to force myself to do push further. It made an impression on me. The tendency to hover in a few close values when painting in color just disappears when you're painting black and white--it clarifies the values like nothing else. Great exercise. Tomorrow's post will be the color version of this one (done pre-value study).

-julie davis

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oregon Vineyard

Oregon Vineyard, 6 x 8

This little piece is another of Weisinger's vineyards, but I used a bit more palette knife on this one than the other two. The owner, John Weisinger, sent us some photos yesterday of some bears that have been sneaking into the vineyards at night to eat the grapes. Smart bears.

-julie davis

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vineyard Barn

Vineyard Barn, 6 x 8

Another painting from my Oregon trip. As many barns do, this one houses all kinds of equipment for the vineyard and has been used for decades. When the light filters through the old boards, it's almost magical. Unfortunately, it was overcast for much of our visit, but it didn't diminish the fun.

-julie davis

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tempranillo, Weisinger's Winery

Tempranillo, Weisinger's Winery, 6 x 8

A Spanish variety, these Tempranillo grapes thrive in the Southern Oregon vineyard of Weisinger's of Ashland. Our family had the pleasure of traveling to Ashland in August, and visited family at the vineyard. I took many photos, and am finally getting around to working from them.

This painting was again a mix of brush and palette knife work--something I'm finding I really like.

-julie davis

Monday, September 13, 2010

Limes Value Study

Limes Value Study, 6 x 8

Today I spent several hours in the studio getting back into the swing of things. I began with this value study--it's probably something I should do more often--it's a great tool. Too often I'm so enchanted by the local color that I don't pay enough attention to getting the right values. I have my friend Laurel Daniel to thank for reminding me of the importance of these!

-julie davis

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hill Country Farm Study

Hill Country Farm Study, 6 x 8

I've been wanting to experiment with a brush / palette knife combination painting for a while, and finally did so today. The small size made it more of a challenge to use the knife, but I always end up getting more color on the canvas with it. I think it turned out to be an interesting little painting.

-julie davis

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Driftwood View

Driftwood View, 6 x 8

When I took Skip Whitcomb's workshop last May, we watched him do a demo in the Driftwood area, and I took plenty of photos . This view of distant hills tucked between groups of oak trees is so common in this area, but I love it every time.

-julie davis

Monday, September 6, 2010

Low Country

Low Country, 6 x 8

On our way to Sedona this summer, my husband and I were caught in parking-lot traffic on the only interstate that ran from Phoenix north to Sedona. There had been a wreck, and we were stuck for several hours in roughly the same place near Anthem. So, naturally, I pulled out my sketchbook and camera and began to work. I had lots of time, and was really happy with the composition I came up with for the view we had of this river valley. This study is a very quick sketch of that pencil sketch, and I hope to paint it larger soon. I purposely kept it loose and let the Indian Red ground peek through.

-julie davis

Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer Sky

Summer Sky, 9 x 12

On Thursday, Plein Air Austin met to paint at a legendary local BBQ restaurant in Driftwood, Texas called The Salt Lick. The owners have a decent amount of beautiful property that surrounds the actual restaurant. We painted away from the food, but were definitely near enough to smell it, which made us exceedingly hungry by noon.

I chose this scene because of the sky, and the intense contrast it provided with the golden fields. The clouds were big and puffy, leading to some much-needed rain later in the evening.

-julie davis