Tom Altenburg: Nature Artist

NOAPS Altenburg Savana Shade  “Savanna Shade”, 23.5×16, Acrylic, Collection of the Artist.  Winner of ‘Best Realism’ at the NOAPS 2018 Best of America National Juried Exhibition at the Eisele Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio.

The most memorable realistic paintings are more than technically well painted; they are paintings, such as Tom Altenburg’s painting pictured above, that are well composed, and give us a sense of emotion that transcends the obviously skilled hand.  Here the artist created a circular composition that leads us directly to the eye; that eye translates intelligence, and leads us directly to the birds above.  We get the sense of size of the elephant in contrast to the birds above.  The elephant is grounded, solid, and the birds, as light as air, fly away.

NOAPS Altenburg Warm Sunlight  “Timber Wolf”, 17×24, Acrylic, Collection of the Artist.

Artist Tom Altenburg is a life-long artist.  Starting in high school, he realized his talent and passion, and took classes at the Kansas City Art Institute in drawing and painting.  He continued his art education earning a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  Tom received additional experience taking classes and workshops; particularly from Hallmark Cards Master Artist Ron Raymer while in high school, and later at the Beartooth School of Art in Bozeman, MT.  He has studied with artists such as Robert Bateman, Terri Isaac, and John Banovich.

NOAPS Altenburg Blue Cascades  “Blue Cascades”, 28×16, Acrylic, Private Collection.

Altenburg would classify himself mainly as an animal and nature artist.  He finds his inspiration and subject matter through his love of nature; parks, nature refuges, animal rehab centers and zoos.  His compositions are a result of sketches, combinations of his photos, and his own fluid ideas.

NOAPS Altenburg King of Coop Paint         NOAPS Altenburg King of the Coop

“King of the Coop”, Left, in progress, Right, finished painting.  28×14, Acrylic, Collection of the Leigh Y. Woodson Museum.

A session in his home studio, which sits across from a fishing lake and nature trails, begins perhaps after his morning walk, a little time on his guitar, and then assessment of his digital photos.  Beginning with an underpainting in acrylic red oxide, he is able to establish his composition.  This color choice also helps him achieve the vibrant colors so characteristic of his work.

Working on a composite hard board coated with gesso, he uses Liquitex acrylics in combination with gesso and mediums.  His palette consists of Titanium white, burnt umber, raw sienna, light blue violet, ultramarine blue, chromium oxide green, cadmium yellow, orange, an red, yellow ochre and yellow green.  Paintings can take a week or up to a month for completion, depending on the size.

Tom Altenburg is also a full-time artist for Hallmark Cards.  He is an American Western equine artist; has created artwork for Star Wars Publications for George Lucas; and created the 2017 Birds in Art Exhibition show poster for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, with the original piece as part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Altenburg’s work has also received accolades from the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, where he has won numerous awards, and has been granted the status of Master Artist.

To see more of Tom Altenburg’s artwork, visit

To see the NOAPS 2018 Best of America visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

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Jeff Morrow: Realism Today with a Look at the Past.

NOAPS Morrow The Young Pianist 30x24  “The Young Pianist”, Oil, 30×24, Winner of the ‘Best Figurative’ Award at the 2018 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit at the Eisele Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Capturing emotion and movement in a portrait or figure painting creates a lasting impression on the viewer.  In Jeff Morrow’s painting “The Young Pianist” the artist has conveyed a sense of peaceful concentration, using the piano structure to enclose the figure in the world of his music.  The soft edges and warm color scheme give help to impart the feeling of pleasant calm.

NOAPS Morrow The Designer 24x30 2016  “The Designer”, 24×30, Oil on Canvas, Collection of the Artist.

Jeff Morrow has achieved great success since turning his full-time attention to his art.  Although he painted as a hobby for many years, his hobby became a serious vocation after a corporate downsizing.  He had been painting in oil for many years, but when his time was fully devoted to art, he began taking lessons on the basics as well as more “sophisticated techniques” with David Mueller, a Cincinnati artist.  He continues to paint and learn from a core group of Cincinnati artists, drawing inspiration from “their passion and dedication to excellence”.

NOAPS Morrow The Painter 18x14  “The Painter”, 18×14, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Jeff is primarily a portrait and figure painter, though he also finds inspiration in sporting animals, urban and outdoor scenes as well as still life.  When working, he only occasionally does preliminary sketches, but starts the painting with an idea and the toned canvas.  He first lays in the values, considers his composition, and once these are established he begins in color.  His brushes range from hog bristle flats to synthetic flats and the softer sables for edge control.  His palette consists of Flake White replacement, Winsor Yellow, Winsor Yellow Deep, Yellow Ochre pale, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Light Red, Cadmium Scarlet, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue, Viridian,  Sap Green, and occasionally black.  His choice of supports is usually one with little tooth, or panels.

NOAPS Morrow Mint Julep Cup with Roses in progress   NOAPS Morrow Mint Julep Cup with Roses 14x11 2018   Left:  “Mint Julep Cup with Roses” in progress: Right: “Mint Julep Cup with Roses”, Completed, 14×11, Oil on Panel, Collection of the Artist. 

As plainly seen in his work, Jeff is a realist painter.  The resurgence in the popularity of realism, which is evident in the revival of atelier schools of art, relies in large part on the practices of the old masters.  These masters, including Edmund Tarbell, Joseph DeCamp, and John Singer Sargent, have impacted Jeff’s work with their “disciplined yet painterly manner.”

NOAPS Morrow Middleburg Hounds 18x24 2016  “Middleburg Hounds”, 18×24, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection.

NOAPS Morrow Winter Shadows 18x14 2014  “Winter Shadows”, 18×14, Oil on Canvas, Collection of the Artist.

And although Jeff finds the masters to influence his work, he feels that authenticity is most important. In finding one’s own voice, he advises “take all your lessons learned and all your good influences and apply them to your own natural style.  You have to find your own voice and use it towards what you wish to create.”

Jeff Morrow maintains a studio in Cincinnati, and is represented by Eisele Gallery of Fine Art, Cincinnati.

To view more of Jeff’s work, visit his website at

To view more of the 2018 NOAPS Best of America Exhibition visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

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Adam Clague Teaches How to Get Loose at NOAPS Workshop, by Dale Wolf

NOAPS Adam Clague

Artist Adam Clague

To those of us of wizened age, Adam may look young (actually at 34 he is young to have hit stride at such a high level of excellence because he paints crazy-good).  His brush just rolls across the canvas, with solid, confident strokes. You won’t find him dapping or fussing as he interprets the figure in front of him. He will tell you that at one point in his early art classes he was driven by perfection. He could do realism. It’s just that realism wasn’t what he wanted. Breaking the realism habit was hard, but now he teaches others how to do loose paintings that still impart what the figure looks like—only with a style that makes him happy and his clients even happier.

It happened here in Cincinnati when he led a class of about 11 portrait painters from the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society.  NOAPS held their  annual meeting in the Mariemont suburb of Cincinnati and their national juried Best of America show was held at Eisele Fine Art Gallery to conclude their five-day meeting.

Adam was a major part of this show. He was the judge who had to evaluate over a hundred stunning paintings hanging at Eisele to determine the award winners.

Adam also ran NOAPS’ two and one-half day portrait workshop held at the Women’s Art Club. He opened with a prayer circle seeking wisdom and guidance for each attendee to achieve the improvement they sought, followed by a talk about his approach to painting the human figure and then a demo that illustrated his technique and talents.

NOAPS Adam & Nancy Haley

Adam with workshop participant Nancy Haley.

After Adam’s demo, the class went to work for three consecutive half-day sessions, working with live models.

Adam taught along his own “five fundamentals” of drawing:  value, color, edges, temperature, plus the big bonus—composition. With 2 model set-ups and 11 students, Adam worked to take each student to the next level, pushing for improvement over the three sessions. He studied each painting and then pointed out a few areas where the student could achieve a better capture of the model. He stressed that the drawing had to be as good as possible and sat down on each student’s chair to measure off the key distances, such as distance from tear duct to chin compared to tear duct to top of skull. These careful measurements assure that all facial elements will be in proportion to one another before color is added to the drawing.

NOAPS Adam with Michelle's Portrait   NOAPS Catherine Marchand

Pictured left to right: Adam helps with student work; Catherine Marchand working on her portrait.

Adam cautions, “Don’t get caught up in the details. Keep it more of an impression of what you see. Leave the viewer with some things to figure out on their own and they will become more involved in your painting.”

As he crossed the room, his individual tutorials encompassed a breadth of painterly issues:

“Use broad brush strokes and get this edge along the cheekbone established.”

“You could use more chroma where the blood is closer to the cheeks”

“Use a bigger brush. Here, this one is just about right. Get the right value of paint on it and touch it on the face just where it is needed and pull the brush away. Don’t fuss it.”

“Roll the color along this edge. Edges are where the excitement happens”

“Establish your darkest and lightest spots and then work toward them.”

“Don’t lose those key values as you move along. They add life to the figure.”

“With a white beard, it is generally darker than you realize and it is in these areas that you establish the darker values. We need to find these darker areas to create the dimensional shapes within the beard.”

“Just a few things to consider here because your drawing is good but look at that shadow under the chin … if you get that established more strongly you will know where the bottom of the face is and that will begin to hold all the other shapes in relation to one another.”

All of Adam’s students emerged from the workshop with fresh enthusiasm and some real nuggets of wisdom.  Adam Clague is definitely an artist to watch.


Adam Clague will have an on-line course in painting available in 2019 for all levels of artists.  This on-line course can be taken at several different levels with individualized instruction, and can be done from the convenience of home.  To see more of Adam’s work, visit

Thank you to Dale Wolf, artist, author, and NOAPS member.  Dale is also a member of the Cincinnati Art Club.

Edited by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

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Carol Lee Thompson: Painting for the Love of It

NOAPS Thompson Brimming with Personality, 20x39

“Brimming with Personality”, 20×39, Oil, Crossgate Gallery, Lexington, KY, winner of the Third Place Award in the 2018 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition.

The title of Carol Lee Thompson’s painting says it all.  As humans, we assign human emotion and thought to our pets, and each hound in the painting certainly has an expression that we humans can identify.  The dogs are presented in a row, obviously waiting for their opportunity for action, with a playful composition and energy.  The center of interest is placed slightly higher than the rest, giving the viewer a place to start when interpreting all the various attitudes.

NOAPS Thompson Ready 11x11  “Ready”, 11×11, Oil, collection of the Artist.

Carol Lee Thompson is a well-studied artist.  She began with a BFA from Towson State University, and went on to the Maryland Institute to earn an MFA.  But she attributes her classical training to The Schuler School of Fine Art where she learned the techniques of the Old Masters, particularly that of Peter-Paul Rubens.  Her mentor at the school was Ann Didusch Schuler, who taught Thompson and to whom she credits much of her success as an artist.

NOAPS Thompson Violent Heart 27x21  “Violent Heart” 27×21, Oil, Collection of the Artist.

But it is not just technique that has shaped Thompson’s career; it is her firm belief in painting those images that inspire her the most.  She is passionate about animals (particularly horses), nature, and faces of individuality.  The emotion that she expresses in her paintings reveal her passion, and the viewers are given the opportunity to both see and feel those emotions.

NOAPS Thompson, Chinese Grandmother 12x9  “Chinese Grandmother”, 12×9, Oil, Collection of the Artist.

Carol’s process always begins with an underpainting.  Larger pieces require sketches to work out the composition, and she often uses transparent paint and glazing to get luminous effects.  She has learned the skill of making her own pigments, surfaces, and other of her own materials, including materials for various other mediums, which, as she states, “feeds her creativity!”.  Her brushes include a variety of brushes (that end up quite abused in her process), as well as Rosemary brushes.  And though she may work in other mediums, her professional choice is oil.

NOAPS Thompson Old Friends 23x21  “Old Friends”, 21×17.5, Oil, Collection of the Artist.  This painting has been juried into the 2018 NOAPS Best of America Exhibition at the Eisele Gallery, Cincinnati, OH.

After years of working from life, Thompson is not averse to working from photos, but thoroughly understands the problems associated with photographs, and is able to aptly overcome these and use them to her best advantage.

“Paint through it” is Carol’s advice to all of us; she has learned that difficulties produce growth, and that “If that brush is going you are moving forward and you are learning and growing”.  We are students until the last.

Carol taught art at The Schuler School of Art for over 30 years; she is a Signature Member of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, the Oil Painters of America, she is a Recognized Living Artist with the Art Renewal Center, and a Signature Member of The American Academy of Equine Art, among other memberships.  She has won numerous national awards, and has been featured in numerous national art magazines.

Carol Lee Thompson is represented by: Troika Gallery, Easton, MD; Going to the Sun Gallery, Whitefish, MT; Crossgate Gallery, Lexington, KY; McBride Gallery, Annapolis, MD; Huey’s Fine Art, Sante Fe, NM; Crystal Moll Gallery, Baltimore MD; and Handwright Gallery, New Canaan, CT.

To view more of Thompson’s work, visit her website at

To view more exhibitions from the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director


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Bill Farnsworth: Painting with Intent

NOAPS Farnsworth Pathway to Paradise

“Pathway to Paradise”, Oil, 48×36, winner of  ‘Best Landscape Award’ from the 2018 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition; Reinert Fine Art Gallery

When looking at Bill Farnsworth’s painting “Pathway to Paradise”, the first impression that comes to mind is ‘atmosphere’.  The artist has painted the color of the air.  Invisible to most, this artist has taken the scene with all the effects of light and shadow and created a unified painting that not only brings the viewer in, but makes you see and feel the hot muggy air.  The cohesive composition and carefully controlled color palette, along with loose but intentional brushwork all work to deliver a compelling painting.

NOAPS Farnsworth Cheers 14x18PC  “Cheers”, 14×18, Oil, 1st Prize Winner at the Cashiers Plein Air Festival, Cashiers, NC; Private Collection.

Bill Farnsworth was an artist from the start.  First drawing on walls, then Design paper as a boy, he never left his love of drawing and art.  He graduated from the Ringling School of Art with a certificate in illustration, but admits to being primarily self-taught.  His art career has spanned decades, and has supported his family with his illustrations and oil paintings.

NOAPS Farnsworth Brunch18x24 PC  “Brunch”, 18×24, Oil, Private Collection

Bill’s best inspiration is traveling and painting en plein air.  The effects of the light in different areas and the experience of painting outside bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm and insight to his work.  As he states, “setting up an easel and painting direct from life gives you a great deal of inspiration during those two hours.” His work has been influenced early on by Bernie Fuchs, Norman Rockwell and NC Wyeth, and later by Richard Schmid, Sargent and Zorn, as evidenced by the loose brushwork and impressionistic nature of his current work.

NOAPS Farnsworth against the tide18x24PC  “Against the Tide”, 18×24, Oil, Private Collection

Painting in oil, he finds that his process varies from one painting to the next.  Although he prefers to paint en plein air, he may use photo reference.  From the photo he creates a small study to determine if the composition will work as a larger painting, or he may only work from his plein air field studies.  In order to keep his original concept in mind, he will often title his work before starting the painting.

NOAPS Farnsworth 14x18 AC Flowers for the table  “Flowers for the Table”, Oil, 14×18, Collection of the Artist, Juried into the American Impressionist Society 2018 National Exhibition.

His palette consists of Titanium white, Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Sevre blue, Viridian, Italian pink, Alizarin crimson, Cadmium red deep, Cadmium red light, Alizarin orange, Yellow ochre, Cadmium yellow light and Ivory black.  His supports are handmade panels created from linen mounted on gatorboard, and his brushes are mainly Richeson Signature and Rosemary.

NOAPS Farnsworth Pondering.18x24 ACjpg  “Pondering”, Oil, 18×24, Juried into the 2018 Oil Painters of America Salon Show; Collection of the Artist.

Bill states that his greatest accomplishment is his “contribution to illustration and fine art with a sincere empathy toward (his) subject.”  His instruction and workshops have helped and encouraged many other artists during his career, and led these artists to greater breakthroughs in their work.

Bill’s words of wisdom are often repeated in these pages: “Paint for yourself”.  This is a recurring theme, that painting for a show, a market, or just to be ‘different’ doesn’t always give the artist the inner satisfaction nor success that painting with an “honest intent” provides.

Bill Farnsworth is represented by The Hughes Gallery, Boca Grande, FL; Dabbert Gallery, Sarasota, FL; Tree’s Place, Orleans, MA; Reinert Fine Art, Blowing Rock, NC; Mountain Mist Gallery, Cashiers, NC; and the Patricia Hutton Gallery, Doylestown, PA.

To see more of Bill’s work, visit his website at

To see more of the 2018 NOAPS Spring On-line International Exhibition, visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director




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Charitable Giving

As artists, we are often approached to donate a piece of our work to a charitable cause.  If we pause for a moment before answering the call to donate, it is not a character flaw…a moment’s hesitation for thoughtful reflection is natural, and often to our benefit.

Giving of our art is giving of ourselves.  There is rarely a more personal type of giving than that which one has created by our own hand.  It is not only a way to help others, it is a way to spread the beauty and meaningfulness of what we have created.  In giving, we have the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of others.

Aside from the giving of ourselves, it makes sense to donate.  For the artist, it means a new or different audience for your work.  Giving to a local charity may help to increase local sales.  Your giving spirit may be rewarded with new collectors.

Now to the hesitation…we ask ourselves many questions before committing to a donation, and rightly so.  Here are some questions that should be worked out in our own minds before committing:

*What does the charity support, and is it relevant to me?

*How will the work be used or sold?

*How will it be displayed?

*What kind of artwork is being donated, and does my work fit?

*Will I be able to get a tax receipt?

*Will I be able to track the selling price?

*What kind of exposure will the artwork receive?

*Are there promotional materials that I can distribute as well?

Art is your work, and may be your livelihood, make sure that giving makes sense to you. 

Here are some hints once you have decided to donate:

*Make sure the piece you give is a good representation of your work.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but should be of good quality and framed well.

*Include your contact information, business cards if allowed, a biography to herald your success as an artist, and the full retail price.

*Capitalize on the promotion offered by the charity; ask the charity if you can use their promotions on your website, facebook page or other venues.

The National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society members and non-members have recently been invited to donate for an on-line auction to benefit the Lovis Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The 28th ‘Best of America’ National Juried Exhibition will be held at the Eisele Gallery of Fine Art, who is partnering with the Lovis Foundation in this endeavor.  To learn more about the Lovis Foundation, visit  For questions regarding donations for this event, please email


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How This Perfectionist Learned to Paint More Loosely by Adam Clague

NOAPS Clague Lincoln                          NOAPS Clague Micah

Left: An early student drawing of mine

Right: A more recent oil painting

I’ll be transparent – I’m a perfectionist.  I iron my jeans.  I have a have a hard time focusing in a cluttered studio.  I quintuple-check these lessons for typos (and kick myself when one gets past me).  For years, my perfectionism was a huge hindrance to my painting – by the time I got everything just right, it was way too tight!

Now, please don’t misunderstand me – there is nothing wrong with fully rendered or “tight” paintings.  Just look at the masterpieces of artists like William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Lord Frederic Leighton!  Tight painting is only an issue if you want your paintings to look loose.

And man, did I want to paint loosely like Sargent and Schmid! My paintings may never be on a par with those masters but my work finally developed the looseness I desired.

This perfectionist learned to paint more loosely by disciplining myself to adopt these 6 practices:

NOAPS Clague

1. Stand up.  Sitting will keep you from frequently backing away from your work – an essential habit, as problems are much more evident at a distance.  If you’re unable to stand while painting, sit in a chair with wheels.

2.  (Following from the last point) Adopt the 10-Foot Rule: If it reads well from 10 feet away, it’s good; don’t touch it!

NOAPS Clague 2

3.  Envision your subject made up of shapes like mosaic tiles.. As much as possible, try to paint these shapes with one stroke each.  If you need to adjust a shape, do so with a separate, deliberate stroke instead of continuing to dab at it.  Painting a shape with a single stroke often requires a generous amount of paint on your brush, which leads me to the next point…

4. Mix up large batches of paint on your palette with your palette knife.  One of the biggest culprits of tight painting is not using enough paint – when your brush is hungry for paint, multiple strokes are needed to cover an area and this can cause the surface to look overworked.

NOAPS Clague 3

5. Use a brush slightly too big for the job (I can’t remember what artist said this, but if you know, please remind me!) 

6.  Continuously ask yourself, “How do I want this to look?”  Having at least a semi-clear vision for your brushwork can keep you from falling into the trap of slavishly copying your subject.

I demonstrate my loose painting technique from start to finish in my online video course, “Learn to Paint Dynamic Portraits & Figures in Oil.”  For more information, please visit

NOTE: Adam Clague will be conducting a 2-1/2 day workshop during Opening Week at the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society 28th Best of America National Juried Exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio.  For more information and to sign up for the workshop, click here.

About the Artist

Adam Clague’s work has received international awards and press.  The artist lives near Kansas City, Missouri with his wife and fellow artist Andrea Orr Clague and their son Gideon.  Adam paints in an impressionistic manner and works from life as much as possible to produce the most life-like results.  The artist seeks to faithfully capture the beauty of Gods creation and to share that beauty with his viewers. 

Adam’s work is represented by Ward & Ward Fine Art (Kansas City, Missouri), Hudson Fine Art (Hudson, Ohio), and Gallery Augusta (Augusta, Missouri).

To see more of Adam’s paintings visit, to read his blog posts visit and Facebook at

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