Spring into Plein Air

Here in the Northeast, spring is finally arriving with its burst of blossoms and bright fresh colors.  It is a relief after the grays of winter, to see some color!

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“River in Spring”, 18×24 by Rae Hamilton from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

As many of you know, this week is the Plein Air Convention out in San Diego, California, and marks the unofficial beginning of the Plein Air Season.  Even to a committed studio painter, the lure of the outdoors calls when one peruses the glossy pages of that plein air magazine.

NOAPS Julie Pollard

“Country Road” Oil, 11×14 by Julie Pollard from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

Just as a still life painter knows, there is nothing so valuable as painting from life.  In the studio we can control every aspect of our environment, from lighting to content.  Not so true out there in the wild…one must contend with weather, wind, bugs, changing light, and the overwhelming amount of material to paint.  With all those variables, one can not help but admire those sometimes weather-beaten painters.

With a taste of plein air painting on our palettes, perhaps a bit of a refresher course could help inspire.  There are innumerable YouTube videos on painting to refer to, many DVDs, many other instructional videos.  But let’s get down to the basics; a good place to start is the long time favorite of landscape painters, “Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting” by John F. Carlson.  First published in 1929, this book isn’t on DVD, doesn’t have soothing music in the background or even a color picture.  But this book is absolutely full of sound, basic information that is essential to the landscape painter.  The book covers topics such as the mechanics of painting, angles of light, values, perspective, color, composition, and instruction on painting trees, clouds and more.  Certainly a must have in the artist’s library.

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“Morning Drama” Oil, 14×36 by Gary Gibson from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

If you are inspired by the glossy photos, certainly a landscape book by such artists as Richard Schmidt, or Peter Wileman and Malcolm Allsop will satisfy; books with in-depth instruction such as Suzanne Brooker’s “The Elements of Landscape Oil Painting” and Mitchell Albala’s “Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice” can prove helpful.  (NOAPS has no interest in promoting these books, these are only suggestions by this author).  This is by no means an exhaustive list of the myriad books available to artist, just a few highlights.  But as many an artist will tell you, the best teacher is yourself at the easel.  Nothing will help us to paint better than understanding what we don’t know, and only experience will tell us that.  But along the journey, be sure to stop and be inspired by all the art around you, both on and off the easel.

To view more of the 2016 Best of America Exhibit, visit http://www.noaps.org and click on past exhibits.  Also visit us on Instagram at Natoilandacrylicsociety.

Please visit our website at http://www.noaps.org to learn more about entering your work in the 2017 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit, hosted by the Castle Gallery, Fort Wayne, IN.

by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director


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Tim Breaux: Vision Through History

Tim Breaux edited View from peralta[2925]

“Looking South from Peralta” 12×12, Oil, available at Hawthorn Galleries, MO, winner of an Excellence Award at the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit.

One of the most important aspects of a painting for artist Tim Breaux is the communication of emotion through the artwork.  In the case of “Looking South from Peralta”, the feeling that immediately comes through is that of being in the place where the artist was standing and feeling the beauty that surrounds us.  We can literally feel the heat, the thin air, and the texture of the rock beneath our feet.  The artist has strategically placed the rocks and the cacti to keep our eye moving throughout the painting, but unable to leave the painting for the objects on the right of the picture plane.  The well chosen values move us through space, and warm reflected light invigorate the scene.

Tim BreauxDSC_0112 2   “Apache Sentinel” 12×9, Oil on Panel, Collection of the Artist

Tim Breaux is originally from Louisiana, growing up  among the live oaks and sugar cane plantations.  But in 1995 he and his family moved to Missouri, where he experienced a totally different terrain and lifestyle.  Though trained as a pharmacist, his true calling can easily be seen in his artwork.  Always a creative person, from hobbies that ranged from gardening and bow hunting to raising and training driving horses, Tim is a self taught artist.  He gained a fascination early on from the paintings of the Hudson River School, whose large scale works held allegorical messages through the romantic and pastoral scenes.  He especially reveres the work of Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church and George Inness.  He also gains inspiration from contemporary artists Matt Smith, Quang Ho, and John Pototschnik, who continues to advise and inspire him.  He also sites his most important teacher, his creator.

Tim BreauxDSC_0011   “Little Green Soldiers” 8×10, Oil on Panel, available through Hawthorn Galleries.

Tim now devotes his time to painting 3-4 days a week, both studio and plein air.  He describes himself as a representational artist, often working wet into wet, but also employs the techniques of the Hudson River Artists, using layering and glazing for his process.  His inspirations come from what catches his eye; often the simple graphic pattern of light and dark.

Tim BreauxDSC_0144 2   “Evening Pastoral” 18×24 (painted in the Hudson River Style) Oil on Canvas, Collection of the Artist

He starts his day in the studio by organizing his space, and works in silence to keep his mind clear for the process at hand.  He uses a large glass palette, a double bath system for his brushes, and replaces his colors every two days to keep his paint fresh.  His working surfaces for plein air are cotton canvas panels, or stretched canvas panels in the studio.  Tim’s background in science gives him the ability to analyze the fundamentals of his process, and create within a solid framework of tools that he has gained through the years.  Reading through his blogs on his website will give the reader valuable information on many aspects of creating great art.

Tim’s outlook on creating art is sound advice for all artists:

“Paint what you like.

Paint small and paint often.

Use a limited palette for color harmony.

Find one or two teachers that you admire and learn all you can from them.  Don’t chase the latest fads and techniques from workshops.  Spend all your time learning the fundamentals: Drawing.  Values.  Perspective.  Edges.”

Tim Breaux is represented by Augusta Wood LTD, Augusta, MO, Cherry’s Art Gallery, Carthage, MO, Hawthorn Galleries, Springfield, MO, and MacCreed’s Gallery, Lebanon, MO.

To see more of Tim’s work and read his blogs, visit his website at http://www.timbreaux.com.

To see more of the 2016 NOAPS Best of America paintings, visit http://www.noaps.org and on Instagram at Natoilandacrylicsociety.

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Tina Garret: A Leap of Success

Tina GarrettIMG_0158   “Reverie” Oil, 20×30, Collection of the Artist, Winner of The Second Place Award in the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

Stirring. When looking at Tina Garrett’s painting “Reverie”, that was the foremost word that came to mind.  The painting emotes on many levels: firstly, the chiaroscuro.  The shifts from light to dark create a sense of drama and mystery, leading the viewer into the creative process by imaging what is in the areas of dark; what is really the expression on the woman’s face?  Secondly, the areas of light lead us around the painting, from flower to flower and then resting on the luscious folds of satin that point to the hands, then to the face. But then we have a question to resolve…what is the story?  The position of the feet make us think that there is an insecurity, perhaps a vulnerability, that we are left to question, and ultimately relate to.

Tina Garrett came to oil painting after her career in graphic design and illustration.  Having an early interest and love for drawing, Tina went to college at the Colorado Institute of Art where she pursued graphics.  But when the publisher she worked for went bankrupt, she had to make a decision; her leap of faith was to follow her dream of painting like the Masters.

Tina GarretIMG_0157   “Momento a Momento” Oil, 58×28 Collection of the Artist

After the choice to become a full time artist was made, Tina studied with various well known artists, as well as at the Scottsdale Artists’ school, where she received two merit scholarships.  Artists that have been particularly helpful in her career path are Romel de la Torre and Michelle Dunaway, both of whom remain in contact to provide rich guidance and advice.

For Tina, inspiration can strike her anywhere, anytime: “I’m just living my life and flash, there it is in the turn of neck or swatch of fabric.”  The model for ‘Reverie’ was a chance encounter while at an art exhibition, and after a short chase, the model was secured for a sitting.

Painting exclusively in oil, Tina works both from life and photos.  Many of her paintings are quite involved, some taking up to a month to bring to conclusion.  Her process for painting varies, as different paintings require different approaches.  At times she uses the selective start method, wherein she begins in one area and brings that area to completion.  Other times she may do an underpainting, particularly for more complex subjects.

Tina Garrett10527676_781899595223214_5305240114465913161_n   Detail image of “City Blues” 24×36, painted in selective start method.  This painting won the ARC Purchase Award in the 11th Annual International ARC Salon.

Tina Garrettdetail monochrome string of pearls   This detail image shows the monochrome underpainting used to create “String of Pearls” 30×40, ARC Salon Purchase Award winner, and 2015 NOAPS BOA People’s Choice Award Winner.

Tina’s work has been well received by numerous organizations of late; she has earned two purchase awards from the 11th and 12th International ARC Salons,  and two of her  paintings are now part of ARC’s renowned permanent collection.  She credits her family for their support, but it is mostly her devotion to art that has led her to such success.

Always the student, Tina feels that any artist should paint knowing their intentions and keeping perspective.  She keeps books that she finds helpful close by, particularly “Alla Prima II” by Richard Schmid, and refers to them when needed.    For Tina, making her painting process as joyful as possible is most important, “quality materials, good food, great music and a beautiful muse.  I truly believe if you love what you’re doing, it shows”.

Tina Garrett is self represented at this time.

Tina’s work “String of Pearls” is exhibiting in the 12th Annual International ARC Salon at the Salmagundi Club in New York May 13-June 12, 2017 and at the Museum of Modern Art Europe (MEAM) in Barcelona, Spain in September.  “Reverie”, recent Grand Prize winner of International Artist Magazine’s People and Figures Challenge NO. 98 can be seen at the 26th Annual National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils at the Eisele Gallery of Fine Art in Cincinnati, Ohio May 12-June 10.

Tina teaches workshops at private studios and art centers across the U.S. and is teaching her first international workshop in Tuscany, Italy in October, 2017.

To view more of Tina’s work, visit her website at http://www.tinagarrett.com

To view more of the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit, visit http://www.noaps.org and see the images on Instagram at Natoilandacrylicsociety.


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Rusty Frentner: Keeping it Wild!


“Sheep” Oil, 16×24 Collection of the Artist, Winner of an Award of Excellence from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

In a rare moment, the artist of “Sheep”, Rusty Frentner, was able to capture a glimpse of the elusive mountain sheep found in the Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat Area in Wyoming .  The animals peacefully sun themselves on warm rocks, giving Rusty a perfect opportunity to capture their images.  The painted image is perfection; the composition leads us to the ram, and we are taken through the painting by the various positions of the animals.  The artist has given the viewer a place to stand and enjoy the scene, and he has infused the painting with warmth and sunlight.

Living in the country as a boy, Rusty Frentner learned to draw and paint early on, savoring the nature around him.  He found inspiration in the wildlife and animals, and has continued that theme throughout his body of work.  Rusty studied illustration and fine art in college, and has studied with numerous wildlife artists to hone his skills.  He sites Heiner Hertling, also a wildlife and landscape artist, as a mentor who continues to inspire him.  He also looks to the work of artists from the past, namely Peter Paul Rubens, John F. Carlson, Edgar Payne and Henry R. Poore, especially for their compositional techniques.


“Monarch”, Oil on Gessoed Hardboard, 6.5×7.25, Collection of the Artist

Rusty works mainly in oils, but has also worked with acrylics, graphite, watercolor, colored pencil, pastels, and gouache.   His plein air work is in oil, and he works either on stretched canvas or canvas mounted on a  gessoed dry erase board.  When outdoors, he uses his Strada easel, and Grey Matters brushes.  He values the experience of outdoor painting, and though does work from his photos in the studio, he is able to paint en plein air at least once per week throughout the year.

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“Afternoon on the Madison” Oil on Stretched Canvas, 15×20, Collection of the Artist

His process in the studio is one of careful planning and attention to the composition (after his coffee, or course!).  Using Photoshop to help him design the painting, he decides on the format, size, and composition.  He often uses an armature for a compositional guideline, using the phi root rectangle or other root rectangle.  The compositional strategies he has found in the books by Carlson and Poore are also useful in his planning stage.  After he has decided on his plan, he sketches out his painting which he then transfers to the canvas.  His painting rhythym in the studio depends on the excitement he feels about a particular painting…some call him to work right away, others require more thought.  To Rusty, “the most important part of the painting is the composition and design.”

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Working process for “Phi Apple” Oil on Canvas, 12.75×20, Collection of the Artist

To date, Rusty acknowledges his Best Outdoor Still Life Award at the Plein Air Art Salon sponsored by Plein Air Magazine to be his greatest accomplishment.  He has also won numerous local and international awards as well.

Rusty’s advice to readers is to Paint, Paint, Paint!  He feels his biggest steps forward were a result of practice.  He recently took the 30 day Challenge sponsored by Strada Easels, which he says greatly increased his skills.  One technique in particular was to paint small paintings using only 50 brush strokes.  This technique helped him to use less detail, and to get the image painted before the light changed.  Also helpful for personal advancement is to study the work and techniques of other artists; this helps to educate and inspire.

Rusty is currently represented online by http://www.artlicensing.com.
To view more of Rusty’s work, visit his website at http://www.keepingitwildart.com

To view more of the National Oil and Acrylic Painter’s Society Best of America Exhibit, visit http://www.noaps.org.  or visit on Instagram at Natoilandacrylicsociety.


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Larry Rudolech: The Call of Light and Color

One can not help but be drawn in by Larry Rudolech’s painting, “Not Just a Bridge”, winner of Best Use of  Light and Color Award sponsored by Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff in the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit. This well composed painting leads us skillfully to the focal area, with all shadows giving the viewer direction. The colors are well chosen, comprised of complements expertly arranged.  The artist knew when to lighten, dull or brighten the colors, leading the viewer easily around the painting.  But for a landscape (or any painting, for that matter) to be a masterpiece, it takes more than a working knowledge of fundamentals.  One must feel the sense of place, of atmosphere, and want to exist within the painting.

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“Not Just a Bridge” 18×24 Oil, Collection of the Artist

As a young person, Larry had always enjoyed drawing and art, but came into his own after winning multiple national art awards in high school.  His college career at the John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis took him in the direction of design, a degree which he used to become a graphic designer and illustrator.  After owning his own freelance business in the field, Larry decided to leave the “rat race” and focus his energies on painting.  He has been actively pursuing his love of art for the last 10-12 years, with great success.

RudolechCafe New Harmony  “Cafe New Harmony” 24×24, Oil, Collection of the Artist

Mainly a self taught artist, Larry feels the best teacher is actually the act of painting itself.  In a sense, this has given him the freedom to paint “the way I feel I am made to paint…I paint very simple…”, although his paintings don’t give the impression of simplicity.  Larry also loves sculpture, and in the painting “Cafe New Harmony” we can sense the sculptural quality of his paintings.

Rudolech1735-17 Gone Fishing  “Gone Fishing” Oil, 16×12, Collection of the Artist

Rudolech1699-17 Selfe Trip   “Selfe Trip” 24×24, Oil, Collection of the Artist

Larry finds himself a plein air painter 9 months out of the year, but often considers his plein air work to be studies for competition pieces.  Back in the studio he takes the plein air work and recreates it, looking for areas to improve.  He often has 3 or 4 paintings in process at the same time, giving each painting time to “tell (him) what it needs”.  This helps him to avoid the mistake of overworking a painting, and as he states “I have never under worked a painting yet”.

Oil is the main medium for Rudolech, and he uses a very standard palette of colors.  The main thing that he is searching for in his paintings is a sense of light and color.  The subject matter for his paintings varies, and his goal is often to bring beauty to the ordinary things that may not at first appear beautiful.  In the studio the reworked paintings may take no longer than the plein air studies, as he tries to put the paint down once without overworking.

RudolechWashington Gem 2500   “Washington Gem” Oil, 24×30, Collection of the Artist

Rudolech encourages artists to enter competitions; this, he feels, is an excellent way to learn.  The competitions can help the artist to compare their work against work that may be considered at a higher level, and makes obvious areas for improvement.  He emphasizes that when entering a competition, focus your entries on those pieces with artistic merit, not just pretty pictures.  And most of all, find your heaven, as he has done, by painting to satisfy yourself.

Galleries representing Larry Rudolech:

The Brown County Art Gallery, Nashville, IN

The Brown County Art Guild, Nashville, IN

Broad Ripple Gallery, Indianapolis, IN

New Harmony Gallery, New Harmony, IN

For more information on Larry Rudolech, visit his website at: http://www.rudolech.com

To view all the the NOAPS Best of America 2016 paintings, visit http://www.noaps.org., and on Instagram at Natoilandacrylicsociety.

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Hebe Brooks: Reflections

As one looks at the still life painting by Hebe Brooks, “As Sweet as Honey”, which won the Best Still Life Award sponsored by the Martin F. Weber Company in the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit, there is not just one still life, but many. The viewer’s eyes are led from the oranges to the reflections on the dazzling silver, bouncing with grace through the painting just as the light does. Within the reflections we see more than meets the eye…the surroundings of the still life, the back of the objects, and a multitude of nuances of light and color.


“As Sweet as Honey” Oil on Linen, 20×30, Private Collection

Like many artists, Hebe knew from a young age that art was her favorite pastime. As a child she spent countless hours drawing and painting. But also like many artists, she pursued a different career after college, working instead in the travel industry where she was able to gain insights on different cultures, life and art. But her art won out, and after a few years she returned to the University of Houston for a degree in Fine Arts, Studio Painting and Art History.

As a docent for the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, Hebe has the opportunity to view some of her favorite artists on a weekly basis…paintings by Jan Van Huysum, Willem Claesz Heda, Winterhalter and Courbet always give her pause.

Although still life may be her most frequently painted genre, Hebe also does landscape and figurative work. The still life paintings provide her with the ability to ponder her set up and color palette, taking time to carefully consider her composition.  In her piece  “Coffee in the Serengeti”, the background drapery is carefully folded around the coffee set, but upon closer inspection the viewer can see the landscape reflected in the lustrous metal. It is the careful description of reflections in her paintings that are a hallmark of her still life work, and even in her landscapes, such as seen in “Midday Mirror”. The inspiration for reflections came to her while sipping her afternoon tea, and noticed the effect. As Hebe describes, “It was looking at the world through a different lens. I could see everything that surrounded me and I have been hooked on reflections ever since”.


“Coffee in the Serengeti”, Oil, 20×30 Collection of the Dunegan Gallery of Art, Winner of Best Still Life Award at the 2014 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

In the studio, the set up for the still life takes some time to ensure the light and reflections are working within the composition, after which Hebe starts with a monochromatic underpainting. The underpainting allows her to fine tune the composition, values and details. She chooses a color for the underpainting based on the final colors, often using a complementary color. After the underpainting is completed, she begins a process of layering her colors and bringing the painting to completion.


“4PM Tea Time” Oil, Collection of the Artist


“Midday Mirror”‘ Oil, Winner of Best of Show at the 50th Richardson Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition. Permanent collection at the Richardson Library Art Collection

Hebe has garnered many distinctions with her art, including Master Signature Artist with NOAPS,  Best of Show, First Place, Best Still Life (several times!), along with many other awards and recognitions. She has had articles published in the International Artist Magazine and Southwest Art Magazine. Hebe graciously extends her thanks to the judges, editors, and art organizations who have recognized her work.

Hebe’s parting words: “Painting is so addictive that a day without painting is usually a bad day; therefore paint, paint, and paint some more!”


To see more of Hebe Brooks’ art, go to http://www.artbyhebe.com.

To see more of the National Oil an Acrylic Society’s Best of America Exhubits visit http://www.noaps.org.

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Cecy Turner: Drawing on Nature

As the shafts of sunlight filter through the trees, the viewer can almost feel the cool, crisp air.   It may be easy to linger on the colorful snow and the twisting of the brook, but as we follow the trickle of water we are led to a small home nestled in the distance. Cecy Turner’s painting “Tucked in for the Winter” was the winner of the “Best Narrative Award” sponsored by Plein Air Magazine in the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit.

Cecy TurnerTucked In for the Winter email   “Tucked in for the Winter”, oil, 20×24

Cecy’s love for drawing began early in life, as she recalls pouring over her father’s sketchbook and wishing she could draw so well as he. Her love for art continued as she took art classes in college and afterward, focusing on oil and watercolor.  Her leap of faith came after a few years in her job, when she decided to quit the job and focus on her painting.  She began by entering art fairs on the weekends.  Although her college courses offered little in the way of fundamentals, Cecy sought out workshops and instructors that would round out what she felt she had missed during those college years.  Her choice to devote her time and talent to her art was a good one; for 12 years she supported herself and her children by selling and teaching art, admirable to say the least.

Like so many of us, Cecy is inspired by John Singer Sargent…his compositions, use of values and simplified brushwork.  Sorolla is another favorite, particularly for his emotive use of light and shadow.

Nature is the primary inspiration for Cecy’s work.  Many of her paintings are done en plein air, particularly in Colorado in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Although she may have been deterred from plein air painting in the beginning, she has since found that she enjoys the challenge of battling the elements.  She has discovered the necessity of painting on location; “if an artist doesn’t paint on location, they are missing out on the fact that nature is the greatest teacher”.  Nature, she feels, gives her more than any class, book, dvd or workshop.

Turner’s palette for her work consists of alizarin crimson, Rembrandt Red, burnt sienna, cadmium orange, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium lemon, viridian green, ultramarine, cobalt and cerulean blues, and Titanium-Zinc white.  Her colors are the same for both studio and plein air work.  Her outdoor set up consists of either an Open M Box (11×14) or a smaller 6×8 or 8×10 thumb box.  The changing light outdoors precludes her use of study paintings en plein air, but for studio paintings she always does either a small value study or a color study.

Cecy TurnerMeandering Way Step 1   Cecy TurnerMeandering Way Step 2   Cecy TurnerMeandering Way finished

Step by Step for “Meandering Way”

As she begins her day in her studio, she plans out her work.  When working from her photos, she will peruse her computer photo files and prints, and find an image that jumps out at her. She will take the time to do sketches and plan her paintings, as she has learned  that planning is essential for success.

Turner has twice been featured in the “Art of the West Magazine”, most recently in the Mar./April 2016 issue titled ‘Mother Nature’s Magic’ as well as a cover image and feature article on painting snow for “Watercolor Artist Magazine”.

Cecy enjoys changing mediums from time to time, and says that “it gives a fresh perspective and keeps paintings lively.  One medium can help you get better in another medium”.

And her word for us is Perseverance.  A tough skin helps as well.  “You can’t EVER give up on something-trying it again and again is the best way to learn!”

Of the many accolades that Cecy has earned, here are just a few:

Master Signature Member of the Women Artists of the West (also past president of WAOW), a Fellow of the American Artists Professional League, Signature Member of American Women Artists, Signature Member of Western Federation of Watercolor Societies, and Signature Member of the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society.

Ms. Turner is represented by Silver Street Fine Art in Lake City, CO, Seaside Gallery in Pismo Beach, CA, and Gallery VII in Allenspark, CO.

To view more of Cecy Turner’s work, visit her website at http://www.cecyturner.com

To view more of the NOAPS 2016 Best of America paintings, visit http://www.noaps.org.

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