Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, Nov. 30

Well it's back to the grind again, play time is over. The cabin is set for fire wood for this winter at least.

Larry, my web site designer, was complaining about the ass on the girl in the red bathing suit, so I figured it best to work on that.

The problem was not enough of her left leg showing, so I defined that more and cut into the figure a little on the right side with the water..."So....., Larry, is it better now?"

I also lightened up the sky with some yellows and the water with more yellow/blue color.

So, for now, I think it will be done for the crit session, as I always like to say "You got to have something for them to complain about!" For me it's actually good, there are things the artist just does not see, no matter how much he looks at the painting. Maybe it needs a boat? or a larger wave some place?......a bit of wine Thursday night and it all comes out, the cold harsh truth!!!

Afterwards I started a 24x36 Amsterdam painting. I know, I said earlier that the gallery up in Seattle wanted a 30x40, but they also had a client interested in a 24x36 painting of mine and since I had that size all stretched up waiting to go.........

First I sketched in a rough drawing of what I wanted, not much to look at, I know, but it helps to get the composition going. Next I blocked in a few large values like the sky and water.

This view is not far from the main train station in Amsterdam. If you walk out the entrance and cross the road in front (just make sure you watch out for the cars and trolley's), heading at about the ten o'clock direction, you'll run right into this scene. If things work out, I would like to go back to Holland this summer for another painting trip. It is truly a fun city to walk around in and get lost, just make sure you don't end up in one of those bars where the smoke smells a little strong!

I started next to block in some of the shapes of the boats and buildings, so the view has a feeling of traveling down the canal. The boats on the right side of the canal I want to give a lot of attention to and make them the center of interest. With a strong back light on them, the contrast was gorgeous with sparkles of the sun filling up the water.

The next step was to add some of the darks into the painting and voilĂ , the block in is done for today.

Richard Boyer

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Our Thanksgiving, as in most households, was the usual over indulgence, eighteen pounds of turkey gone in the flash of an eye. It resembled a nature program where the poor calf wanders into the piranha filled tributary deep in the Amazon and is cleaned to the bone in less than two minutes. The appetizer of shrimp lasted maybe five minutes, as we enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir.

We had the Strayer family over, along with Mike, Carlie and Brian, a total of twelve. As I ordered the bird several days before at the local health food grocery store, they recommended a pound per person. Obviously, they didn’t know the appetites of some of our guests. Three desserts and half a dozen bottles of good wine later, we crawled into bed and slept until ten the next morning. Friday we made plans to head up to the cabin; there were still large logs from several weeks ago that needed to be chopped up into firewood lengths.

There is nothing more manly than whacking a twenty-pound ax at a cut section of a log with the intent on splitting it right down the middle. I handed the ax to Victor, my fourteen year old and stepped back some distance to chain saw our collection of wood into more manageable lengths for the fire place. Being of small stature it took great effort, as he slowly raised the heavy ax over his head and contemplated his downward arc to the center of the nine-inch cut log. He exhaled and let gravity take over, the wedge accelerated faster and faster as it came closer to the object. I heard a resonating thump, followed by a mumble of disappointment; the ax missed the intended target by a good three inches. Victor spent the next few minutes trying to wedge the blade out of the stump the log was resting on.

I watched again, as slowly the blade was raised above his head, this time his eyes remained open as the ax swung down with the force of a freight train. Another dead thud was audible; Victor had managed to hit the center of the log, burying the steal blade a quarter inch into the wood. The vibration shuttered up the handle and through his body, as he released his grip from the handle.

I knew what his next comment would be, “Pappa, this wood is too hard, it’s not going to work!”

We agreed upon reducing the size down to that of a two inch branch, which when met with a twenty pound wedge of steal, would send the shattered, cut section flying over the top of the cabin. Victor liked this idea of air borne timber, better than the shock waves of defeat.

Saturday we slept in until ten again, ate breakfast and went out to resume our manly operations. My not so manly shoulder muscles were feeling the day before. Markus, my sixteen year old and I traded chain saw duties until the remainder of timber was all cut up and stacked out of the winter weather. I think now we have enough, or at least that’s what my back is telling me. Tomorrow it’s back to work.

The Howard/Mandville Gallery sold a 30x40 painting last week without the frame, some people have their own idea of what they want around a certain image, so they will ask for the work without the existing frame. So now they are requesting another boat painting to fill the void.

Richard Boyer

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


There is still snow on the ground outside and even though I like skiing, a part of me wants to see the warm green grass of summer. To step out into warming rays of the sun on bare skin and hear the birds chirping away. This is the time now when we experience the grey's of winter. When the candles are lit by the living room coffee table, as the early evening arrives.

Yes, I am getting a little frustrated with the damn painting, its taking a little too long. I did more on the water today as well as the figures, but of course none of it looks totally finished. When this happens, I will usually set it down and work on something different. It's like hitting a brick wall, you just can't seem to go any farther. My mind is a complete block as to what I need to do next in order to finish it off. After a week out of sight, it might be very obvious what needs to be done.

As the fellow member's of the crit would say "What's wrong with the girls' Ass, it looks wrong!"
"Also you got a wave too strong behind the little girl out in left field there!"

Yah, yah, yah...........I see the @#%# things are also wrong, but usually after I am done painting for the day.

So after lunch I moved over to a smaller and older 9x12 painting I had.

This is one of those painting I had at a gallery for a while, until they said "Hey, we've had this a little too long and it still hasn't sold" they send it back to you and off it goes to another gallery. Six months later, they are saying the same damn thing, "Look Richard, it seems this one is getting no interest, how about we switch it out for something completely different."

I call this churning, the galleries love to do this, since it keeps their inventory of an artist fresh, they always have something new up on the wall. For the poor artist it's a struggle, since you end up with the painting you did six months ago right back in your studio. Well, it's a part of life for me, so I tend to re-work them, and that is exactly what I did with this one, I darkened up some of the skin tones and worked a little more on the water. Its a small painting, which the Southam Gallery wants for a Christmas show. So let's give it another try.

You know what they say, "Third times the charm!"

So, tomorrow we all know what's happening. Nobody works, including myself..........ya, right!
We have guests coming over for dinner and as my wife puts it, "this house is not going to look like it does right now, we have some cleaning to do!" That usually means vacuuming the house top to bottom and we have a three story Victorian house, with a soon to be fully renovated basement!

Richard boyer

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


More time was spent on the water today. I wanted to establish the waves and some of the highlights on the water. The figures of course need to be painted in better tomorrow, but with the water all around them, it makes it a lot easier if at least that is finished off.

I omitted the beach, instead I'll leave it as very shallow water. I felt it might become a little crowded with sand in the very bottom of the painting and compositionally it wouldn't have helped much. With the water I can play around with the colors of the sand below, it will be a good excuse to bring some rich yellow ocher colors into the painting.

Today I am stopping early, since I need to take care of a few things before the big Thanksgiving dinner. Supplies have to be picked up, including the bird itself!

Richard Boyer

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday, Nov. 23

There is snow on the ground today, so the studio is a lot lighter. We had, "as the weather report calls it", a weak front move through the northern part of the state. Well yesterday evening it started to come down as large flakes and kept snowing for several hours, resulting in a few inches on the ground up where we live. There is one nice thing about a fresh snow fall, especially if the next day in clear, which today is. The sun light reflects off of the white snow illuminating everything outside, as well as inside.

I started a small 16x20 inch painting of three figures in the water today. The Southam Gallery in Salt Lake City just sold a similar 12x16 painting I did of my kids playing in the Baltic Sea. They told me they had several clients in who seemed keen on that subject matter and of course, were wondering if I could paint a few more.

I can take a subtle hint, so I started the first initial block-in to cover the canvas. I'll call it "The Three Sisters" two of them seem timid with the water temperature and the third, being younger , is farther out in the water seemly indifferent to the cold. Tomorrow I will play up the waves and the sunlight reflecting off the water.

The place in is at the very southern coast of Sweden. We were there visiting relatives and spending time doing nothing on the beach!

Richard Boyer


Here is a picture of the weekend project, we managed to get half of the drop ceiling in. I then ran out of lumber!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It's Saturday, a day when you are free from the your boss and the daily nine to five, a day filled with rest and relaxation.............that is until I meet my wife, Karin !

Her response is "Just where do you think you are going, we have the basement that needs to be finished off!"

My thoughts of spending the day just lounging around come to grinding halt. I finish the morning coffee off and butter up a few pieces of bread. The breakfast is over, the vacation comes to an end as I put on some old work cloths and frown at the project at hand.

We need a drop ceiling put in about four inches down from the floor joists. Karin thinks it would make a great hang out room for our teenagers and their friends, the drop ceiling is so that we don't have to hear them the next floor up. My Home Depot lumber is stacked in front of the basement door. Once that is done, the electrical and insulation go in, then finally the sheet rock people can start. That's where the real mess starts!

As soon as Markus gets up we can start, he is my designated helper this morning. Karin flashes a look at me, teenagers are not know for getting up early.

"I think, it's time for another cup of coffee!"

Richard Boyer

Friday, November 20, 2009


The Crit went well last night; Rick Graham, who teaches art at the community college here in Salt Lake, brought two works and even Geoffrey Fitzwilliam, our local furniture/wood maker brought a painting in for the scrutiny of his fellow peers.

No blood was shed, but the wine flowed and the comments were swinging!

I brought out two works, first the "clothing store street painting". As it turned out, the umbrellas needed some work, along with some blue added to the shadow side of them. The child also had a little work done on her dress, as well as some of the cloths hanging next to the umbrellas.

This painting along with the other 24x36 below, I was going to send off to the May Gallery in Scottsdale, most likely next week after the paint dries some more.

Next I brought out the 30x40 boat painting and most seemed fairly glad about that one. Not too much needed to be fixed on this one.
The dock in the lower left corner was toned down with some blue and yellow ocher, along with some cool color added to the post on the right side. A few of the refections from the boats were changed for the better, either I made them darker or just broke them up a little so they wouldn't look so predictable.

I signed it lower left, so I guess it must be done then ! I was going to send to Jim at the Mockingbird Gallery in Bend, Oregon.

A few of our critique members were missing last night!

Congratulations go out to Dave Strayer, who was in Chicago as a guest on the Oprah Winfey show. Dave is our local researcher at the University of Utah Department of Psychology, and for the last decade, has been studying the dangers of cell phone talking while driving. He has been coming to our crit sessions for several years now and some of us were his guinea pigs in the first study he did about cell phone driving. His point - "Cell phone drivers are more dangerous than drunk drivers behind the wheel". So with that in mind a group of us came to his lab and were told to start drinking shots of vodka, until our blood level reached .08, then we were placed in a simulator and forced to drive behind some slow moving car for twenty minutes. None of our group crashed, unfortunately I can't say that for the cell phone test group!

Any ways, Dave was in Chicago on her show to talk about the dangers of it all and of course Oprah had every imaginable guest there, who had lost a loved one due to a cell phone driver. As Kay, his wife put it, it was a very emotional show. We get to see it in January.

They called us at the crit session from Chicago, Kay did at least.........Dave, on the other hand, called from Boston. He was off to meet up with Click and Clack from "Car Talk"

"There's going to be no living with him now!"

Richard Boyer

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It's crit night tonight and it will be at my I need to go out and get a few things, like a bottle of wine or two!

Today I worked on the water, bringing down the reflections of the boats, and at the same time, trying to keep it simple. The last thing I want to do is get carried away with a photo realistic reflection, that's why you don't see the rigging reflected in the water. The bright colors are also toned down quite a bit, water does not reflect like that of a mirror. One is at the same time looking down into the water, so you will pick up the local color of the water in your reflections. If this was a river scene from southern Utah, you would have a lot of sand sediment in the water, which would give an orange and brownish tint to the water. It could still use some fine adjustments here and there, but before I do that, let's want and see what the other artists say about it.

There is always tomorrow!

Richard Boyer

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The rigging was put on today, so the boats are ready to sail !

Well maybe not quite! I did work on defining the masts more, also added an extra to the right of center, to balance off the composition better. A flag was added to the right boat, along with some letters on the stern. The lower left dock was also worked on, but it still looks a little off. I'll paint the water in tomorrow since all the masts are in place, it will go fairly fast to bring it all down into the reflection of the water.

With the crit tomorrow night, I need to hurry and get it all wrapped up by the end of the day, the last thing I need to hear is, "It looks a little unfinished?"

Richard Boyer

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today I have Victor and Lina home feeling a little under the weather. It's not the H1N1, they both just seem to have runny noses..........but the painting must go on!

I worked more on the boats, especially the center and the right ones. The stern railing of that center boat bothered me too much, looked a little heavy handed, so I repainted that.

The masts were also blocked in, they look a little static and boring at the moment, but once I get all the rigging in place and a jib sail here and there, I think it will pull together better. Then I can start with the water. I always find myself fight the urge to paint the water in, until I have the main subject matter finished off. There have been too many paintings where I work on the water only to change it latter on, because I moved something to the left or right. Its much better to just block in the value of the water first and then once you have established all your objects in the painting, you can better determine how the reflections in the water will look.

The dock on the left will also need to be more in perspective, right now it just looks odd!

Richard Boyer

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, Nov. 16

Yesterday we collected fire wood up at the cabin, two carloads in fact. With about six inches of snow on the ground it made everything a bit more challenging. Now its all pilled behind the cabin, under the second floor structure. Next weekend we will cut it all to size with a chain saw and stack it outside in a sheltered spot out of the weather.

Today I worked on the 30x40 boat painting, mainly concentrating on the left two sail boats. I added a few figures to give it some life, two people working on a sail. There not very big or prominent in the work, but without them the entire scene would look empty. Now even though your eye might not pick up on the two figures, subconsciously your mind sees them and the painting will have more life to it. Once I get further along with it and all the masts are in, I'll see if I could use another figure some place.
I'm not too happy with the stern on the middle boat, but it's best not to hang up on it and push on. I can always come back to it later on when more is finished off on the painting.

I have this goal, as usual, of getting it done for the Thursday crit session. It would be a tragedy for me to show up at a critique session with nothing in hand.

Richard Boyer

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Today is a non painting day, usually is over the weekend, time for the family instead!

We are driving up to our cabin in the Uinta Mountains, with winter fast approaching, we need to collect fire wood. Its about an hours drive and I'll take Markus (16) and Victor (14) up with me, Karin and Lina (9) will come up later in the day. Lina has a birthday party to go to!.

This morning we had a light dusting of snow on the ground here in Salt Lake City, up there at 7000 feet its most likely much more. So I am hoping that we don't have to dig through snow to find the fallen trees that we need to collect. We spent some of the morning tracking down and dusting off all the winter gear, its always frustrating when you find just one glove! I never know if the dog chewed it apart during the long summer or if its just buried in another part of the house.

The cabin is rather small, a main floor with a wood stove in the center between the kitchen and living room. Then we have a small room next to that with some bunk beds and a steep stair case leading up to a small second floor addition that was added on some time in the seventies. There we have a king size bed, which occupies most of the space.
It takes a while to heat the place up with firewood, but once it is up to temperature, its actually quite cozy.

As you can see there was snow and yes we had to dig some out.

Richard Boyer

Friday, November 13, 2009


The crit night went well and the wine was good. Around midnight it was hard to keep my eyes open any longer, so I had to break it up. We have a few artists that are on a different schedule than most, another words they get up in the afternoon and don't go to bed until the early morning hours.

I brought out a 30x24 piece that I had been working on last week. Its a street scene from Bonnieux, one of my favorite town's in Provence. The red umbrellas were originally green in color, so I changed them out for red ones. I also worked on the road a little, breaking up the cobblestones to make it more interesting.

I just hope the umbrellas are not too red, then again all the galleries say "Red is what sells!"

Last summer we stayed in the town of Goult, which is located about 30 kilometers to the north from Bonnieux. From there we traveled each day to a new mountain top village to paint.

Richard Boyer


We have a storm front moving through the valley today, so my studio is rather dark. Some of the ski resorts have opened up and they are expecting another foot of snow up in the mountains

I like to use natural north light, which of course make you very susceptible to the weather conditions, one dark rain cloud and everything comes to a grinding halt.

I worked more on the boats, mainly the hulls, getting them to sit in the water and to look believable. The middle ground was also resolved more. It takes a while on these larger paintings, just because of the amount of space that needs to be worked on. With a smaller plein air piece, much of the detail you can omit, since nobody would see it any ways if the piece is small; when you do it several feet across then those smaller areas, need to be addressed with. A small little brush stroke on a 12x16, when blown up to a 30x40, can not be just treated as a larger brush stroke. The viewer wants to see more detail.

Tonight we have the crit night, as I call it. About ten years ago I started having a few art friends over to look at my paintings and critique them. Usually with a little wine, this becomes relatively too easy. My skin got thicker through this bashing process and I guess the art work got better.

Fast forward to now and we are about eight all together critiquing each others work until midnight and bringing rather higher end wines to the occasion.

It turns out that art is not the only thing we are critiquing. My wine for tonight will be a Grenache from the south of France.

Richard Boyer


With a coffee in my hand this morning I started working on a smaller 11x14 coastal painting that needed a few changes. Southam Gallery, my local gallery here in Salt Lake City is having a show this weekend and they wanted a few more beach scenes. They seem to do well with European subject matter, this might be because of Salt Lake's large population of people who went on missions to Europe. They seem to identify more with the subject matter.

In the painting above, I had a white hat on the girl walking down to the shore and it, of course, blended in with the background sand color. So she lost the hat and I gave her some flowing dark hair, which contrasts better against the lighter background.

After I finished off that one, I turned the radio on to X96, my local modern rock station and put yesterdays painting back up on the easel. I like having music play when I am working, especially something that gets the tempo going. My wife, upon entering the studio, will inevitable blurt out, "How can you listen to that stuff?" That's usually when groups like "Linkin Park" or "Breaking Bengamin" are screaming into the microphone. But what can I say, it keeps me active. I'm afraid classical and soft hits from the elevator music collection would slowly put me to sleep.

This painting I am working on from two sources, the first being a small 12x16 inch painting I did on location last summer, when we were up in Seattle visiting my brother. The second is a computer monitor next to my easel, every time I do a "plein air" painting, I will take a digital shot of it as well for reference. With the smaller painting for the correct lighting and the digital for all the detailed information on the subject matter, I have it covered to work on a larger piece.

Today I worked on the sky and background trees, trying to finish that area off as best I could. It’s more of a logistical process, since my foreground will be filled up with boats, masts and rigging, any changes to the background would be next to impossible. I just have to be sure to keep the atmospheric quality in the background so it doesn’t compete with all the foreground boats.

Richard Boyer

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Demo number one

This blog is being started as more or less a bet. Two of my friends, Geoffrey and Nick claim that blogging can bring in business.

I say, nobody reads blogs!

So, let’s let the contest begin!

I have one of those careers, I wouldn't wish on a friend. Unfortunately most people have no idea the road it takes to get to the point you can actually call yourself a real artist. The first ten to fifteen years after saying that I wanted to pursue an artistic live style, were wrought with poverty and desperation. I lived for five years in Germany, actually at that time it would have been West Germany. There I tried my hand at first approaching Galleries and was met by constant rejection. The feel of front door being slammed in my face was all too familiar. So, please don't let anyone tell you its "the life". Realistically it's an up hill battle all the way, and the sick part is, if you check out, or stop painting for a bit, you slide right back down again.

Now with that said, what I can do and what might be interesting for the viewer is if I could give a progress report on the paintings I am working on each day.

Let's start the blog with a 30x40 painting I am working on, of some boats up in Seattle. The Mockingbird Gallery in Bend, Oregon told me they need a large boat painting for the wall. So over the course of the next week I will take some pictures of the progress of the painting, you might call it a "step by step - how I do it" type of blog.

I started out with just a quick block in to figure out the basic composition. Using a medium sized brush, I will draw with a few lines the subject matter. There is really no point in getting too detailed with the drawing part of it, since it will be covered over with washes of thin paint. I tend to work more with shapes and masses than line drawings. You may have noticed that I like to cover the white canvas with an orange turpentine wash, that makes it easier to judge values when its not glaring white back at you.

It’s still a little crude, but "c'est le vie"

Then I worked on trying to define some of the boats, and filling in the rest of the canvas with paint. Once again the lines are being obliterated by the fields of color I am laying down. I like to have it all covered over in the first session, thereby thinking out all my composition problems. The rest of the painting now I can relax on now, since my composition is all figured out.

Okay, I understand most people will be looking at this and saying “It’s still just a bunch of unfinished blobs of paint?”……what’s more important for me, is that I know how it will look in the end.

Richard Boyer