In the first painting, I painted what I saw; a boat in the harbor.

In the revised edition, I painted what I wanted the viewer to see. Removed the harbor. Put the boat in motion. Highlighted the whites. Softened the sky.


IMG_3960 (1).jpg

The Boathouse

So I’ve painted the iconic Boathouse in Leland many times, but this time I was able to paint from the dock on the opposite shoreline from the Boathouse.  I usually paint in the grassy area which is about 6’ higher than the dock, so my perspective was greatly enhanced.  Only during this quite time of year, was I able to actually occupy the dock for a couple of hours to complete my painting.  Enjoy!

Batter Up!

Ok, so one thing I’ve learned is that in order to get to the point where most of your pieces are decent (ie; you’re happy with the end result) you need to do a lot a really bad paintings first. An example of that would be the painting in the first image. So I grabbed that bad boy, and painted over it.

I painted Batter Up! just a couple of weeks ago, but I was wondering what it would like in a larger format. The original was 6x8; this one is 16x20. I’m not only pleased it’s the outcome, but now I know that I have a lot of canvases that I can use in this same manner! Sweet.

Rick Koehler

Plate 7

So after watching Chuck Marshall do an incredible demo at the Cincinnati Art Club this past week, Doug Welsh and I were talking about the measurable progress one makes as an artist, especially in the early stages of this sport.  Well, I coupled that idea with what Sandy and I call Plate 7.  Let me explain. One of my past instructors, published a book and it illustrated the progress of his pieces, and he called the photos Plate 1- Plate 7, which was the completed piece.

Sandy keeps pushing me to take my paintings to Plate 7; telling me frequently that I stop at Plate 5 or 6.  So I pulled some of my older pieces, and decided to take them to Plate7 levels.  You can judge for yourself, but I think the revisions are remarkable.  Basically, an artist paints light and in the past year or so, I’ve gotten much better at understanding how to ‘paint the light’.  That is what I’ve infused into these paintings for your (and my) enjoyment.






Plan B

So as a Plein Air artist, it had to eventually happen...it happened today.
I went to one of my favorite locations to paint a water and sky painting and I added a few sailboats to give the painting a little ‘life’.  As I was setting up in a nice shady spot, I came to realize that I had forgotten to pack my brushes!

Well, I was almost a half mile from my car and then back to the house; the round trip would have been 45 minutes at least.  My other option was to do a pallet knife painting, so that’s what I opted for.

My goals today were several.  I wanted to set the horizon at a really low place on the canvas.  I usually set it one third of the way up or down, but today’s horizon is set at 20% or possibly a little less.  It adds to the drama to the piece, especially in a square format.

Secondly I wanted to try using Thalo Green mixed with Kings Blue for the water.  I’ve never used Thalo Green before and it gave me some beautiful summer water.

Lastly, the three sailboats add not only scale to the scene, but also add movement, motion and a sense of life, that otherwise does not exist in the piece.  They are small but important to the overall composition.  And the whole painting was done with two pallet knives.  I’ll pack more closely the next time out!

I hope you enjoy it.


Lone Apple

People often ask me, if I paint from photos.   When the temperature drops much below 50* that answer is YES.  However, the more I paint the less my finished piece looks like the photograph.  As an example, Lone Apple was painted using the photo you see here.  Clearly you can see that the photo was the genesis of the final painting, but I hope you see and feel the qualities which have been added by my desire to bring you an enjoyable painting.  

Light the Way

One of the things that I really like about this ‘sport’ is that you never stop learning....never.  So one thing that occurs is that as the artist, you end up looking at the completed paintings in your studio over an extended period of time.  I pulled several paintings from their frames today, and began to basically add light.  Light after all, is what draws you into the painting.  Light is what gives a painting life.  Light is what makes you smile when you see it for the first time, and each time thereafter.  I hope these revisions make you smile!

Rounding the Second Mark

Our Harbor

This scene is of the harbor in Northport from the south looking north. It was the first time I had experienced this view and it made a terrific composition with the harbor buildings to the far left and the buoyed sailboats to the right. The rest of the passage took care of itself. I like painting harbored sailboats like this. 


Lake Leelanau from Clay Cliffs

When you hike the path from the trailhead to the Clay Cliffs overlook of Lake Michigan, you will enter a field that when you stop to turn around, you will have this incredible view of Lake Leelanau. It captured my imagination and I returned the next day with my backpack of painting materials. The last 200 yards with my 45 pound backpack tested my endurance after a 3/4 mile hike, but the final product made it all worthwhile.


Lake Leelanau from Clay Cliffs.jpg

Story Telling

There is a story behind every one of my paintings.  What inspired it.  Where it was painted.  What kind of a day was it.  Did the kids on the beach get sand in my paint.  How did I remove the mosquitos that flew into the wet paint before I got it into the car.  Can you find the water scene that I did without using any blue paint?  It was an overcast day and the water and the sky were the same color but neither was blue on that particular day.  If you see a painting and would like to hear the story that goes along with it, just let me know.