Most of the landscapes I paint start out on location and slowly evolve from painting "en plein air" to finishing the piece in the studio. What draws me to a certain location is a combination of many things. What I see in the landscape is what evokes a certain mood, which is determined mostly by the time of day, or lighting, or by the contours of the land. I see rolling hills and long shadows as being peaceful, quiet, and serene. Rocks and crashing water create in me a feeling of tension, excitement and movement. Often I want to put on canvas the feeling of a hot, humid, summer afternoon. Color, lighting and atmosphere are all altered by the humidity in the air. What I begin on location I try to continue in the studio in order to bring out that spontaneity, freshness, and mood and the sense of being there, at the scene that attracted me in the first place.
Rather than simply doing oil sketches in the field and working on a larger painting based on those sketches, I will continue on a painting until I am satisfied with the result, that is, to evoke in the viewer a similar feeling that brought me to a particular scene. Many times I will return to the same location at the same time of day to continue painting where I left off. Sometimes this works and I am able to finish a painting in perhaps two or three 2-hour sessions. Most of the time this luxury can't be afforded due to the variable weather and lighting conditions. When I am unable to finish what I had begun on location I will take some reference photos as a reminder of some of the general elements in the landscape, and bring the painting to completion in the studio. Seeing that my photographs of the scene rarely do it justice, I'll rely on my memory for making correct color choices to create the mood and atmosphere I'm after.
I prefer working on a rough surface, usually a heavy, rough, textured canvas. The rough surface helps me avoid getting bogged down in painting minute details, as the texture in combination with varied brushwork helps create visual interest as the paint is dragged loosely across the surface. The rough texture also allows me to build up thicker layers of paint, developing a rich and dynamic surface that adds to the energy of the painting.