Friday, December 24, 2010

The Mystery of Christmas

"North Carolina Christmas"

This is a scene I painted this week when I was inspired by one of my favorite webcams which is on Purchase Knob in the Smokies.  I have it on my firefox coffee cup, which every time I open my firefox browser it will come up along with all my other favorite tabs.  I love the variety of light on the mountains from moment to moment.  I guess you could say this is my Holiday or Christmas Card to everyone!

The Magic of Christmas

I kind of resisted the commercialism of Christmas and with this painting I desired to downplay the lights and tinsel of the season.  I wanted to inspire a deep and meditative mood during this season.  A sort of quiet and introspective scene.   Many of us will reflect on the past year and consider our lives and the impact we have had on our world.  I know this has been a year I will not forget as my father-in-law, Nelson Silver died suddenly on September 22nd .  He was a great man of god who touched the lives of many people.  I think if I could be half the man he was I would have a great effect on this world for good.  I am going to miss him greatly.  For me, the magic of Christmas is God’s Grace.  He continues to offer the world a Savior for our sin problem.  I know during this holiday period there are many different views and feelings and I just wanted to tell each of my friends and acquaintances how grateful I am to know you, and to have crossed paths.  I look forward to painting and enjoying life with you all next year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!

Scott and Esther Boyle

Sunday, July 4, 2010

2010 Roan Moutain Trip

On Monday June 21st artist Craig Franz and I met at Carver’s Gap before sunrise to paint the Roan Highlands. Our destination was Grassy Ridge on the North Carolina side of the Appalachian Trail, which is about a 90 minute hike with heavy back packs, quite a stretch for 2 out of shape old men. It was a beautiful morning in the color saturated light with cool crisp 58 degree air. Can your senses imagine the aromas that go with this photo? It was the beginning of a glorious day.

After recovering physically from our climb on Grassy Ridge at 6,200 above sea level, I painted this 8 x 10 oil study in the morning low light at about 8:45am.

Though the Rhododendron bloom was early this year, I used my artist license to add in these blooms. I just thought they ought to be there.

The next scene was mid morning as the sun was more overhead and the clouds were beginning to form which would add the drama for the rest of the day. This was an 8 x 10 oil study

This is my good friend Craig Franz from Linnville, NC. He was a real man to lug this huge easel, lunch and water up the mountain. Even though we missed the Rhododendron bloom, it was a blessing to get up on this ridge to paint for the day!

My next one was a vista of the beautiful clouds and with the moving shadows on the mountains. It was getting really hot in the sun so I eventually ended up sitting under the Fir tree on my right for some shade relief.

Here is my 8 x 10 oil Cloud study. What initially drew me to paint it, was the intriguing cloud shadows on the mountains. I attempted to capture the effect along with the feeling of the sky.

After having an interesting chat with a retired university professor I painted this 10 x 8 oil study on Grassy Ridge looking down the mountain to the southwest with hwy 261 towards Bakersville in the distance.

After doing 4 studies on Grassy Ridge I started my journey back down to Carver’s Gap to have supper with Craig at 5pm.  I wish I had more canvas and time to paint what I saw along the way.  It was all about the cloud drama and the light effects from them.

Now I say back down the mountain. That’s not exactly accurate. To go down to Carver’s Gap, you have to go down and back up about 3 times. Here is a photo of the Appalachian Trial up Jane Bald, NC is on my left and TN on my right. I got so tired one time I had to lay down under a tree for a while.

Down at Carver’s Gap parking lot Craig and I had a good time sharing painting stories. I was fascinated by the cloud shadows racing over Round Bald so I did this quick 8 x 10 oil of the drama while heating up a pan of chili I began to see some unusual clouds over my shoulder from the west. These were gray clouds headed right for me really fast. The hand writing was on the wall. So I reverted to the pack up mode. It all happened so fast I didn’t even get to eat before 60 mph winds and heavy rains hit. I had to eat in my truck. After it ended I went up to the Roan Gardens parking lot to sleep in my truck for the night.

The next morning I had oatmeal before sunrise. I did this 6 x 8 oil on the Roan Gardens overlook platform and captured the sunrise peaking through the Fir trees.

I discovered some wonderful obscure trails through Roan Gardens and found this beautiful early low light scene where the mountain appeared a lavender color. This was an 8 x 10 oil study.

For the last and final painting I did this 6 x 8 oil of Roan Gardens by 11am. The scene had turned cloudy so the colors were more subtle, a sort of melancholy scene.

Next year I hope to see other painters to come up to this heavenly place to paint and explore as a group!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

April Plein Air Paintings

April 2nd on the beautiful Cane River near Burnsville, NC.  It was a cool crisp morning about 10am the water was a deep blue color as an elderly couple planted potatoes in the distant field.

On April 10th I was at Germanton, NC for the Germanton Art Gallery's Painting North Carolina Plein Air Show and sale.  I painted this one on Saturday about 11am back behind the Gallery.  I titled it "Spring Light" 

On April 13th I was with the Charlotte Plein Air Painters at the Charlotte Museum of History painting the Hezekiah Alexander Home.  I was attracted to the warm stone face of the house and the dark bushes with mustard green highlights and the overall intense sun light.

On April 20th I was in New Orleans, LA with my paints.  It was a bit of a dreary day and I wondered around a bit before I settled on this scene of colored patch work in the overcast light near Bourbon St.  These by the way or nice homes in the French Quarter but residence must keep their shutters closed due to the the crime.

This is at Wing Haven in Charlotte.  I along with other artists were invited by the Charlotte Garden Club to paint in the gardens as a part of their fund raiser on April 24th.  This was the side door at Wing Haven.  Here I wanted to capture the feeling of sun and shade.

I still have a couple of openings for my 3 Day Plein Air Oil Workshop in Charlotte, NC June 1-3, 2010.  For more info go to

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Being Selective

Oh are we ready for spring!  Yesterday was a beautiful day and I just had to get outdoors.  And what do you do when you go outdoors, well paint of course. Out back behind my house was the logical direction, so I will show you what I found. 

There is beauty and inspriation everywhere as I go about, but I am becoming more selective before I start to paint, for I have made a lot bad paintings in the past.  I still do paint bad ones, but I try to learn from my mistakes when I understand them.  One foudational step in creating a good sound painting is to consider the design of the scene.  I ask myself, does the beauty have a design possibilities?


As you can see there is a backward S pattern in the water that takes you through the scene and the dark creek bank in the distant tree is a focal point. The interest to me also was the beautiful warm color in the creek bottom, the quickly moving clouds across the blue sky with the feeling of spring.  These types of scenes are always a challenge for me because in my past life I would paint every branch and rock.  You just can't do that outdoors in 2 hours; this forces me to be looser and more suggestive in what I am conveying.  I feel this approach is more exciting.  I hope you can find something out back to paint this week.

I will be teaching an 3 day plein air workshop June 1st, 2010 near Charlotte, NC.  I will spend time with 10 students concentrating on the basic elements of oil painting and will include exercises to reinforce foundational skills needed to paint outdoors more effectively.  For more on this artist workshop go please visit

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Painting Snow

I have really been inspired lately reading Stapleton Kearn’s blog, especially his endurance for the cold. If you enjoy plein air painting you will learn a lot reading his blog. For the past 2 months we have had regular snow storms about every 2 weeks or so and I have had many opportunities to get outdoors to paint and explore the subtleties of snow. The definition of subtle would be: difficult to perceive or understand, delicate, faint, and mysterious. I was debating with some of my teenagers that snow is rarely white. But it is a bit elusive unless you spend time outdoors to study it. In this post I will show you 2 recent painting of snow, one under overcast and one in morning sunshine with shadows.

Here is the start of a study of Jacob’s Fork at South Mountain State Park in NC. The previous night they had received 10 inches of heavy snow.

This photo shows the cool light of the overcast on my son's skin and jacket.

Here is the finished 9 x 12 oil study with some minor corrections back indoors. You may be able to perceive cool lights of the snow, and reflections, greens, grays, and the warm shadows of the river bottom, forest darks and snow shadows. Now these temperature differences in the colors are just whiskers in difference.

Here I am painting last weekend about 9am in the morning when the sun came out. Oh what a joy this is! The color variations of snow in sun are a bit more bold and easier to paint. But the trick here is to carefully catch the color of the shadows on the snow. Now I am referring to a clear sunny day with blue skies.  Now when the sun is low on the horizon, as in this scene, the shadows will be more blue and beautiful. As the sun gets higher in the sky the shadow become more lavender and grayer.

My finished morning snow 9 x 12 oil study, finished almost all outdoors. Just a little bit of clean up work and signing indoors. I hope you can see the temperature difference with this painting from the other. The lights are warm and the shadows are cool, which is opposite of the other painting in the overcast light. Again no where have I painted this snow pure white out of the tube. The sun lit passages have cadmium red and lemon added to the white to indicate sun light on the snow. Taking photos of snow rarely reveal these subtleties. The artist must dig and study to get them right by painting plein air.