Oil Painting En Plein Air

You can purchase my plein air oil paintings HERE and benefit the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance.


By packing-up my easel and painting in parks and wildlife refuges, I utilize them in a minimally invasive way. Through the practice of art as an outdoor activity, it is a goal of mine to strengthen the relationship between the arts and the natural and cultural heritage that these places preserve.

Muskrat & Yellow Hawkweed, Mouillée Creek

7/19/21 & 7/20/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

SOLD, Osprey on a Snag, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

7/6/21, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

Diving Tern and Boat Wreck, Humbug Marsh,

5/24/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"


This boat wreck sits in the Detroit River at the mouth of the Handler Drain. It is situated between the Humbug Marsh unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and Humbug Marina. Its origins are unknown to me. I have asked around but have not uncovered its story yet. I enjoy spending time on my own plying the U.S. and Canadian shores of the river, searching for subjects to paint. As I do so, I continue to learn about the Detroit River region’s colorful history which still floats just under the surface, a diverse range of cultures and communities, as well as the natural habitats tucked into pockets and thriving in quiet determination. Peeling back the layers of the river region’s history, exploring it, as well as volunteering with organizations that care for its ecological health gives me a perception that is reframed from the negligent viewpoint that I grew up with. I’ve gotten to know the river region better and I’m aware that I’ve only scratched the surface. I continue to find the area to be altogether dramatic, tragic, scenic, rustic, mysterious, gritty, humble, and unique.


I scrambled out onto a muddy spit of land to get just the right view of the boat wreck. As I painted the scene, I was impressed by a Common Tern as it tucked its wings and fearlessly plunge-dove into the water like a dive bomber. In the painting, I tried to create tension through the fraught proximity of the wreck’s location and the direction of the tern’s dive. The rusty shadow that the boat casts in the water suggests the pollutants that could have waded out into the watershed from its neglected carcass and calls into question the health of the fish on which the tern feeds.

Eastern Cottontail, Manresa Jesuit Retreat


5/11/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"



I painted this during a paint out with the Plein Air Troupe at Manresa Jesuit Retreat. I was raised without religion and I've never prescribed to any particular faith. Because of this, I find that I am generally interested in religion – not necessarily in a critical sense but as something I am curious to learn more about, as to better understand humankind. While painting at Manresa Jesuit Retreat, I couldn't help but incorporate the Christianity of the place into my imagery. The verdant leafy grounds have a winding path with stops where the devout can contemplate the fifteen stations of the cross. I noticed a tree trunk and branch, which when overlapped made an elegant sweeping motion and resembled a crucifix. I was painting beside the fourth station of the cross, where Jesus meets his mother. There were a number of Eastern Cottontails hopping around at the edge of the wooded area. In Christianity, rabbits sometimes symbolize fertility. I was reminded of Titian's "Madonna and Child with St. Catherine and Shepherd (Madonna of the Rabbit)." I chose to include an Eastern Cottontail looking back at the shadow cast by the crucifix's crosspiece.


SOLD, Carleton Farms Landfill from Crosswinds Marsh , 4/26/21, Oil on Gessobord, 11" x 14"


Sundown's last light gilds the landfill,

With its specious gold flake.

All that glittered doesn't do so

For off-gas's own sake.


A backlit theatre curtain of

Stratocumulus pall

Sing's April's nightfall overture,

"Pink moon's gonna get [y'all]."


Two Trees' Roots, Oakwoods Metropark, 4/12/21 & 4/13/21, Oil on Gessobord, 11" x 14"


One revelation that has come from sitting quietly for long periods of time and painting in the outdoors is just how much activity there is. The idea of being alone in nature starts to feel misguided when you become aware of the many living things which are far more aware of your intrusion than you are of their presence. To illustrate this, here is a description of some of the animals that kept me company (as far as I am aware) while creating this painting: Toe to toe with a foolhardy Crawdad before each going our separate ways, the "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" song of a hidden Barred Owl, two Wild Turkeys quietly strutting behind me, the ever-present yammer of a Pileated Woodpecker (is it laughing at me?), the swoop and chatter of two Belted Kingfishers, the raspy primeval call of a Sandhill Crane overhead, a tentative guarded herd of White-tailed Deer in the early morning field mist, the undulating symphony of Midland Chorus Frogs and their plop plop plop as they jump away from me into a vernal pool, the shy Brown Snake who quietly disappeared under the detritus. I tried to convey all of this activity by rendering the painting with busy brushwork. I also had another theme in mind.


When I painted this, I had recently learned that my outside understanding of a particular long term relationship was very different from the reality as experienced by those within it. I couldn't help but compare and contrast this new understanding with a life event that I am currently planning for: My own wedding. On the far bank of the river, there are two old trees side by side and their roots have grown to be intertwined. They remain planted in the soil as the river runs by. Their foundation is interdependent, not necessarily based on love, but as a result of time and proximity. Along the surface of the river, two Belted Kingfishers chase one another in the Spring ritual of courtship.



Hunting Great Egret, Maumee Bay, 4/6/21 at Cullen Park, Oil on Gessobord, 11" x 14"


I was driving south on the highway, looking for somewhere to paint. My right palm was pressed against the steering wheel and my left hand held the phone to my ear as I received the news and tried to respond with equanimity. In a way, it wasn’t news. It was the inevitable disassembly of an untruth I’ve known for most of my life. Somehow, over the years, I had pushed it to the background and fooled myself into believing the façade which cast the truth into shadow. Or, was it kept from me? In any case, the news changed me or was indifferent to me; I couldn’t quite make it out yet but things looked vaguely estranged: The big sky ahead, my sweaty palm pressed against the wheel, my memories turned three quarters and unrecognizable. I pulled off the highway, hit the coastline, and followed it on an unfamiliar road. I wasn’t angry or sad, just disassociated and peculiarly light. I thought, “just keep driving – somewhere different. I’m bound to end up someplace.” I found a park and marina just over the state line. I pulled into the lot and walked to the trail. The footpath threaded boulders, gnarled tree roots, and scraggly undergrowth as it winded its way along the spine of a seemingly natural pier. I found a cove out near the tip. There were the remnants of a snuffed out fire by the water and some rusty beer cans. I took my shoes off, dug my toes into the wet sand, and sat down on a boulder. I looked out at the bay and back at the industrial docks, fingering the worn out mermaid’s tears and opalescent shells scattered around my feet. It was an unseasonably warm day. I couldn’t paint, but I was happy to be ‘out there’ in a place where no one I knew could find me. It gave me space and it gave me time. My inner monologue became a dialogue as one of the many Vincent Van Gogh quotables ran through my head, “If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” I thought, “fuck it. I’ll give it a go and whatever comes out, comes out.” In an attempt to capture my nonplused state of mind, I kept the color palette to a bare minimum and instead focused on creating textures with my brushstrokes, without varying the color or tone to describe form. As if I were imitating the technique of blind embossing, I let the shadows and highlights cast by natural light play off of the ridges of paint left behind by my patterned brushstrokes. Within the figure of the hunting Great Egret is the recollection of my phone call, the talk of mental illness. The bay is solid green with the sickness of cyanobacteria blooms and visually impermeable under the high noon light. The isolated figure stands totally still, searching for signs of life under the water’s surface which only it has the ability to perceive. But, the signs are becoming more visible as suggested by the subtle shadow which swims almost within striking distance.

Gulp of Double-crested Cormorants, Hull's Trace

4/5/21, Oil on Gessobord, 14" x 11"

Dead Deer at Bad Creek, Pointe Mouillée Marsh

3/31/21 & 4/1/21, Oil on Gessobord, 11" x 14"

IN PRIVATE COLLECTION, Skein of Ducks, Pointe Mouillée Marsh,

3/29/21, Oil on Gessobord, 11" x 14"


Pointe Mouillée Marsh is a favorite place of mine to go on a weekday when few others are out. The open sky and flat terrain seems to stretch out forever and it is easy to get lost in thought as you walk along the dikes. The scene depicted is from the southern extreme, which can feel a bit like the ends of the earth: Lake Erie, the power plants, and the hypnotizing sway of boundless invasive phragmites. There is a peaceful feeling to it, which I tried to convey.



Wah Sash Kah Moqua Nature Preserve, 3/25/21, Oil on Gessobord, 14" x 11"


Wah Sash Kah Moqua Nature Preserve is a nature preserve belonging to Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy in partnership with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. It is an excellent case study in how an area previously used for farming can be regenerated back into a thriving native ecosystem.


Spring Burn on Walpole Island First Nation, 3/22/21 & 3/23/21 at Belle Isle State Park, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"


Seasonal controlled burns have been conducted on Walpole Island First Nation since pre-European settlement in the area. The tradition of burning off dead growth preserves historic ecosystems, clears marshes for trapping & hunting, and fertilizes soil. I painted this on the northeast shore of Belle Isle State Park, from where I saw the smoke rise above Lake St Clair.



Shedding Bark, Wolcott Mill Metropark, 3/15/21, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"


The woods feel like a space where mystery can still exist. This is one of the elements that draws me away from the attempted rationality of the human world and into a place where my imagination can wonder. When I saw this sheath of bark opened-up and peeling away from a dying tree trunk, it caught my attention because of its surreality. It looked like the tree was disrobing or that it could be some kind of portal. While looking at it, I also began to think about it metaphorically as representing the shedding of emotional, ideological, or identificatory layers – or, that it was molting as it passed from life into death.


Coyote & Eastern Cottontail, Orion Oaks

2/22/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

SOLD, Mute & Trumpeter Swans, Humbug Marsh

Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

Willow, Lake Erie Metropark

2/16/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

Sun Pillar, Pointe Mouillée Marsh, 2/15/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"


Everything revolves around the particular subject matter that I choose; it is what I play off of. There are three primary dimensions that influence how I paint a subject: The elemental and temporal factors which are constantly in flux and changing the way that the subject appears, the interaction between my own feelings and state of mind with those of the subject, and whether or not there is a particular message or idea that I have about the subject that I would like to communicate. I feel that the most successful paintings contain a mix of these three dimensions. 


Often, when a painter keeps an impartial distance from the subject and is solely concerned with the overly accurate depiction of the subject’s physical characteristics, I find that it falls a bit flat. I appreciate this kind of work for its technical execution, but it rarely holds much mystery and doesn’t often pique my curiosity beyond an inquisition into its plastic elements. This type of verbatim painting is essential to any painter during their developmental phase because it advances the fundamental skills of picture making; however, a painter must build on these fundamental skills, push further, and communicate something that isn’t readily apparent about the subject. On the other hand, I often find that paintings that predominantly focus on emotions and cryptic ideas while neglecting craft and an understanding of materials, similarly don’t hold my attention for very long. Successful paintings strike an appropriate balance between the three aforementioned dimensions, as determined by the subject and what the artist is attempting to say. 


In my painting, Sun Pillar, Pointe Mouillée Marsh, one of my primary concerns was to visually translate the emotions that I felt when I witnessed the sun pillar. One of the primary questions that I have received about this painting is, “did it really look like that?” In a way, it did. When I drove out to the tip of the marsh and looked out past the frozen swampy archipelago to icy Lake Erie, the hot orange sun peeked over the horizon and shot a warm beam of light straight up into the cold purple sky. At first, I was looking through my windshield and I thought I might have been seeing a glare through the glass, so I got out of my car to find the shimmering vertical beam of light still there. I had never seen this atmospheric phenomenon before and I didn’t know anything about it at the time. In the painting, I tried to depict the perplexity and awe that I felt while looking at the sun pillar as well as the feeling of being captivated by an unknown and dwarfing force of nature. What I found out later is that “sun pillars, or light pillars, are shafts of light extending from the sun or other bright light sources under the right atmospheric conditions. They’re caused by ice crystals drifting in Earth’s air” (Byrd, “What are sun pillars or light pillars?”). The pillar of light had dissipated  before I had begun putting it down on canvas so I relied on my memory and my impression of what I had seen. In memory, objective realities lose their definition as they dissolve into one’s personal narrative. I tried to embrace the dreamlike veil that memory drapes over everything to pull out the sun pillar’s emotive qualities.



SOLD, Drey Nests, Pointe Aux Peaux State Wildlife Area, 2/8/21 & 2/9/21, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"


  • Dreys are nests that tree squirrels like the Fox Squirrel form out of dried leaves and other detritus from the forest floor high up in the branches of trees for safety.

  • It’s subject is a synthesis of two primary sources of inspiration for me: An interest in regional history and an appreciation for nature. Pointe Aux Peaux is a point that juts out of the western coast of the Great Lake Erie. I was drawn to this location when I learned the somewhat obscure origins of the name, which roughly translates into English as, “pointe to the skins” and is sometimes referred to as, “pointe of skins.” It was named by the French settlers who first colonized the Great Lakes region and capitalized on the fur trade. 

  • In the Detroit River Region there is an ethnic and linguistic subgroup of French-Canadian and metis culture called Muskrat or Mushrat French. This name comes from the eating of muskrats during Lent. This is still done during an annual celebratory feast in an area called Monroe.
  • Muskrats are semi aquatic rodents.

  • This location was known as an area where the indigenous trappers who traded with the French dried their pelts. Southeast Michigan, where Detroit is, is the contemporary and ancestral homelands of the three Anishinaabe nations of the Council of the Three Fires: Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi as well as the Wyandot Tribes.

  • After doing some research, I learned that there is a wildlife area on the point which consists of some woods and mudflats. I was most intrigued when I visited the location and found no outward indications that the area is managed by the Department of Natural Resources like signage or obvious parking. It is a seemingly unmarked natural space wedged between farm fields, Brest Bay, a neighborhood at the tip, and Enrico Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant. 

  • I packed up my plein air painting gear and began hiking through the Wildlife Area on a snowy, overcast, mid-winter day. As I was walking, I was captivated by the dreys that the tree squirrels made high up in the thinnest of branches and the way that they precariously swayed about in the wind coming off of Lake Erie. I admired the daring and ingenuity of these often dismissed mammals. 
  • While I painted, the setting sun dipped below the heavy blanket of clouds and set the tops of the trees ablaze in its warm glow. The dreys appeared to hover like celestial bodies surrounded by snowflakes which meandered to the earth like lackadaisical falling stars.



White-tailed Deer at Fix Unit, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, 1/26/21, Oil on Gessobord, 14" x 11"


The Fix Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is near Lake Erie, hidden away at the end of a dead end road, and wedged between farm fields and the DTE Energy Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant. Although the unit is open for public visitation, it is a small somewhat secluded place that someone would likely not happen upon unless they were looking for it. Out of the way incongruous places like this are where I am most at ease and where I feel most inspired to make art. At its core, being an artist is an independent activity for me. It is an occupation which gives me the freedom to pursue my own authentic path to the outer edges, where most others don’t presently seem to be looking; this is where I feel liberated and where I seek to know a truer version of the self that I am in pursuit of. 


Keeping up with contemporary trends in the field of the arts really does not play a role in motivating me to be an artist. I don’t pay much attention to whether what I am making is in sync with the current direction that the art industry is going in. I’m trying to stay sincere on my own path and if that happens to rub up against what is trending, that’s okay, but it isn’t guiding me. In fact, if I feel external pressure to take my art in a particular direction that doesn’t resonate with me, whether that pressure is real or imagined, I tend to push in the opposite direction in my own quiet determined way.


On the day that I went to Fix Unit to create this painting, the temperature had risen a few degrees from the previous day and some of the snow on the ground had begun to evaporate, creating a haze that hung over everything. As I walked into the field, a heavy wet snow began to fall. The snow mixed with the hissing steam that billowed out of the nuclear power plant’s cooling towers into the grey overcast sky. The features of the scene beyond my vicinity became dull and muted. In this floating space that seemed to exist somewhere out of time, a White-tailed Deer silently leapt across the dike into the tall grass, checked me, then disappeared into the mist. When I witness wild animals, I often get the feeling that they are divine beings that exist within a logical natural system. In these moments it feels apparent that we humans as a species, although yearning to be natural, exist in an artificial system of our own devising which has been progressively destroying animals and their world. This is the story that I tried to tell in the painting.


SOLD, Fort, Crosswinds Marsh, 1/19/21 & 1/25/21, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"


I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what has passed and situating it in my mind. At times history can feel like fantasy because it is the study of people, places, and situations that will never exist again as they were. On the other hand, studying history has been the most useful tool for me in developing a realistic perspective. As the student of history digs through time, searching for the explanations and points of origin which led to the present moment, one’s point of view necessarily broadens in order to accommodate the new knowledge. In essence, history teaches one to zoom out and put things in perspective of the long view. I believe that individuals and societies that do not have a memory of how the present moment came to be and do not realize that their moment is a slight blip connected to a multitude of sequential blips are in danger of acting ignorantly because their perspective is narrowed to the present without or forethought. Many of the lessons that history teaches are an antidote to potential stumbles in the future. Gaining knowledge about how I am connected to a process that is anchored in history and extends into the future has imbued me with a strength of character and a sense of responsibility to not take the time that I’ve been given for granted. 


The theme of memory features prominently in my painting Fort, Crosswinds Marsh. I had set out to this location to paint a view of the neighboring landfill as seen from the marsh while it was lit up with the golden glow of the sunset; however, as I was walking through the woods to get to the marsh, I noticed this fort made out of sticks and I was immediately transported back to my own childhood in which I spent year after year in the swamp and woods behind my house with the other kids in the neighborhood exploring, playing imaginary games, and building forts. Not only did I look back on my own time building forts as a kid but I was reminded of the open lot across the street from where I currently live in the city. There is a patch of a few trees in the lot and each summer, kids from the neighboring apartment complex find whatever is available to build forts around the tree trunks, where they play games probably not too different from the ones that I had played with my friends in the woods of my youth. As I stood in front of this fort in Crosswinds Marsh, I realized that wherever there are kids playing and a bit of nature, it is likely that a fort is nearby. The one before me in that moment came to symbolize a sacred space of sorts, sheltering generations of childhood memories.



SOLD, Light Pollution, Independence Oaks County Park, 1/11/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"


In terms of my cultural substratum and how it relates to my research on the theme of landscape: I come from and have always lived in the Great Lakes region of the midwestern United States, a relatively short distance from Canada. I grew up on the outside edge of a metropolitan sprawl which originates from a city that, for many, has come to define post industrialism, Detroit. My childhood home hung somewhere in the balance. If I went roughly north, the scene quickly became rural and agricultural. If I went south, the scene became progressively suburban, then urban. The immediate surroundings which came to define my childhood memories were characterized by this delicate balance. I lived within a small, quiet, and relatively established neighborhood stocked with plenty of other kids to run around with unattended. Right out our door, we could easily walk to the woods, the swamp, the pond, the field, the sledding hill, the lagoon, and the lake – all cherished and integral parts of the neighborhood community. The neighborhood was surrounded by miles of dirt roads, which as an adolescent I independently pushed out into on my dirt bike sojourning my favorite patches of woods and fields, riding trails that I had memorized. This is where, in a short span of time, I began to witness the erosion of seemingly wild places for the first time as the sprawl of development pushed itself further into every crack and crevice of supposedly open land. Some of the woods where I would ride all day were stripped bare and became gravel pits, which then became subdivisions of large characterless McMansions spaced out evenly, casting long shadows across the barren landscape. Now, when I leave my rented apartment in Detroit, where I’ve lived for seven years, and take the interstate north to visit the areas around where I grew up, I can see where the new subdivisions are proliferating and where the capitalist tendrils of ubiquitous commercial development crawl out from the exit ramps and stretch up the roads intersection by intersection, artificially fabricating and simultaneously satiating the consumer desires of the growing population. What is lost isn’t easily replaced and each generation that grows up without it doesn’t miss what they’ve never known. And as people continue to move further out searching for greener pastures, the concrete wave follows close behind, most fervent at the edges. This is the emotion that I tried to convey in the painting, Light Pollution, Independence Oaks County Park. The ever brightening sky glow is a harbinger of the approaching sprawl. It is alluring in an eerie ominous way but it is blinding and it will cause us to lose our way as the dome of artificial light widens and snuffs out the constellations in the night sky.



Old Oak Hollow, Shiawassee Basin Preserve

1/4/21, Oil on canvas, 11"x 14"

2020

A selection of paintings.

Trekking Ice Fisherman, Bay County Pinconning Park,

12/30/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"


When my grandfather passed away

He was turned into dust

And sprinkled in Saginaw Bay.

He drifted with each gust


Out into the cool deep Huron,

Riding the flagging waves

That his vessel once moved upon

With a sail full and brave.


In the dormant months of winter,

along that snowy shore,

I went out early to saunter

Across the trackless hoar.


I thought that I was all alone

But when I looked over

The waters, frozen and windblown,

I saw a sole rover


Who was crossing the thin expanse.

I watched the figure slog

Off into the hazy distance

Were he waned in the fog.


I know not where he had started,

Or where his trek resigned,

Or if he had ever spotted

Me fast to the coastline.


Crows Over Snowy Field, Rifle River State Recreation Area,

12/27/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"


This piece came out of a painting trip that I took to Rifle River State Recreation Area at the end of December 2020. During the times when I am in need of a greater perspective, I often seek out the sanctuary of nature and open myself up to its eternal lessons. I took the painting trip to Rifle River in order to momentarily step outside of what felt like a yearlong relentless barrage of human turmoil and to carve out a slow space to reflect back on the year, consider my trajectory, and assess what is and is not within my reach to affect. The area around the cabin where I was staying was nearly silent except for the caw and rattle of American Crows. I've always associated their vocalizations with being, "up north."

SOLD, Beaver Stumps, Lake Erie Metropark,

12/15/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

NOT FOR SALE, Nancy Brown Peace Carillon, Belle Isle State Park,

11/30/20, Oil on Gessobord, 7" x 5", Limited cool color palette

Red-tailed Hawk, Lower Huron Metropark,

11/3/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Limited two color cool palette


Navarre-Anderson Trading Post National Historic Site,

10/26/20 & 10/27/20, 14" x 11", Limited cool color palette

Belted Kingfisher, Pointe Mouillée Marsh,

9/14/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11", Palette: Yellow / Blue-Green / Red-Purple Major Chord

Tawata Trace, Lower Huron Metropark,

8/12/20 & 8/13/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Palette: Yellow-Green / Orange / Purple Minor Chord


Painting en plein air drives me to constantly search for new subjects and to learn more about what is around me. I have walked the trails time and time again at Lower Huron Metropark, but I had somehow always overlooked the Tawata Trace area. On the evening that I happened upon it, I was struck by the violet glow of a large thistle patch, the rising Tulip Tree behind it, and the setting sun's last kiss on the tree tops in the background. I set to work on this painting to capture the scene.

Downtown Detroit from Lake Muskoday, Belle Isle State Park, 

7/20/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11", Palette: Goethe’s Serious palette


While I typically prefer to take in the sounds around me while I paint en plein air, I do often rely on music to get me into the right head space leading up to a painting session; however, on this day in particular, my thoughts were scattered in many directions and I decided to bring my headphones with me out into the field. I listened to the album "The Three E.P.'s" by The Beta Band on repeat and I feel that their music influenced the aesthetic qualities of the sky and clouds.

William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse, Belle Isle State Park,

6/23/20 & 6/24/20, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Goethe’s Lucid palette


For me, this painting's overall emotional condition is one of disorientation. The greens and yellows are sickly. The textural trees and grasses busy the scene as they aimlessly flail in the wind, brought in by an impenetrable procession of gray clouds. At the time that I painted this, I was unsure of whether I should be around others from outside my household, even when outdoors, because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I felt uneasy about standing alongside the trail where others passed by, but I chose the spot because of the composition that the view from that particular location offered. The painting session was punctuated by exchanges with passers by, in which we both awkwardly followed one another's social cues as to whether we talk to each other, at what distance, and wearing a mask or not. The only calm place in the painting is the welcoming bit of land between the trail's terminus and William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse. This lighthouse is the only one in North American that is fully sculpted out of Georgian Marble. William Livingstone is remembered for improving navigation for commercial ships along the Great Lakes through methods such as channelization.

Turkey Vultures Over Shiawassee, Sorensen Park,

4/24/20, Oil on canvas panel, 14" x 11", Palette: Goethe’s Serene palette

Ford Powerhouse from Belle Isle State Park,

3/15/20, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Goethe’s Mighty palette


Ford Powerhouse was designed by Albert Kahn and was built during a time when the area where it stands was known as Ford City. I painted this a couple days after my coworkers and I were sent home from work when it became recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic was a serious threat to public health here.

Persistent Oak, Rifle River State Recreation Area,

12/28/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"




Fallen Oak, Humbug Marsh,

12/21/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

A Hollow, Oakwoods Metropark,

12/7/20, Oil on Gessobord, 11" x 14"

NOT FOR SALE, Sumac & Phragmites, St. John's Marsh,

11/23/20, Oil on Gessobord, 5" x 7", Limited warm color palette

NOT FOR SALE, Field, Oakwoods Metropark,

11/17/20, Oil on Gessobord 7" x 5", Limited cool color palette

Pointe Mouillée State Game Area,

10/19/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Limited cool palette


Pointe Mouillée translates into something like, "wet point." The name comes from the French who originally came to the Great Lakes region in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, Pointe Mouillée State Game Area is one of, "…the largest fresh water marsh restoration project(s) in North America…" (Monroe News). I often feel like I am inside of a Dutch Golden Age landscape when I am there as I walk along the high dikes and look down into the canals that run alongside them.

Pointe Mouillée from Hull's Trace,

10/12/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Limited warm palette


I painted this standing at Hull's Trace North Huron River Corduroy Segment. This is the only known section of the corduroy road that General William Hull and his troops constructed during the War of 1812. A corduroy road is made out of felled tree trunks, laid down side-by-side perpedicular to the route. They laid the track from Urbana, Ohio to Fort Detroit as a new route for transporting supplies that circumvented Lake Erie, which was controlled by the British at the time. Today, the remains of the corduroy road lay under West Jefferson in Brownstown Charter Township and it is managed by the National Park Service.

White Pine & Goldenrod, Orion Oaks County Park,

9/13/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Limited warm palette


Spending more time in nature while plein air painting has given me a greater awareness and appreciation for the cycles which dictate existence. Being a citizen of a capitalist land-of-plenty means that I often fall into the rapacious expectation to conveniently have everything all the time because it is a part of the culture. When in nature, I begin to contemplate the temporal theme of seasonality, as expressed through events like bloom, migration, decay, dormancy, rebirth, etc. Being congizant of nature's constant flux permits me to feel excitement for the coming and be in mourning for the passing, feelings which are numbed in artificial commercialism. One of nature's recurring events which I anticipate every autumn is the glowing fields of goldenrod in bloom.

Shore Birch, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park,

8/3/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11", Palette: Goethe’s Melancholic palette


There is a wistful tranquility to this painting. The birch longs beyond the horizon but is willfully weighted down into its home sands by the serene colors which envelop it. Not long before painting this, my fiancé and I had to cancel our wedding and honeymoon trip to France because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We took time off work and went on a compensatory camping trip to P.J. Hoffmaster State Park instead. While it was difficult to put our plans on hold, I was completely content and grateful to be painting beside the love of my life along the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.

Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery Grain Silos from Chene Park, 

7/13/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Palette: Goethe’s Reflective palette


Canadian Club whiskey was originally made by Hiram Walker & Sons. From the 1960s to the 1990s, there was a large neon sign on top of the distillery's grain silos which faced the U.S. side of the Detroit River and read, "Home of Canadian Club." Some claimed that it was the largest neon sign in the world. It is a whiskey that reminds me of my paternal Grandpa.

DTE Energy Monroe Power Plant from South Lagoon, William C. Sterling State Park,

5/1/20, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Goethe’s Melancholic palette

Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Church from Belle Isle State Park,

3/19/20 & 3/21/20, Oil on canvas panel, 14" x 11", Palette: Semi-neutral

Griggs Drain, Lower Huron Metropark,

1/7/20 & 1/14/20, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Palette: Red-Purple / Blue / Yellow Major Chord

2019

A selection of paintings

Heron on a Muskrat Hut, Lake Erie Metropark,

12/24/19 & 12/27/19, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11", Palette: Orange / Red-Purple / Blue-Green Minor Chord

NOT AVAILABLE, Juniper & Two Willows, Crosswinds Marsh Wetland Interpretive Preserve,

10/29/19 & 11/5/19, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11", Palette: Yellow / Blue-Green / Red-Purple Major Chord

Manabezho Falls, Presque Isle River, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park,

Painted during the Friends of the Porkies Artist in Residency at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, 10/11/19, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Palette: Yellow-Green / Orange / Purple Minor Chord

NOT AVAILABLE, Towering Birch on the Old Nonesuch Road, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park,

Painted during the Friends of the Porkies Artist in Residency at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, 10/6/19 & 10/7/19, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11", Palette: Yellow / Red-Orange / Blue-Purple Major Chord

SOLD, American Lotus, Lake Erie Metropark,

8/13/19, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Orange / Yellow-Green / Blue-Purple Minor Chord


Grassy Island, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge,

7/30/19, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Yellow / Blue-Green / Red-Purple Major Chord


Grassy Island was designated as a National Wildlife Refuge and then it was used as a site to deposit contaminated dredged sediments from the Rouge River, where it is now precariously contained on the island. I painted this view from John D. Dingell Park in Ecorse. I had the company of this fairly inebriated guy for the duration of the time that I was there painting. He lived up the road and said that he frequently passed his days at the park. He left at one point to pick up more libations from the gas station but returned to regail me with more of his life story and to give me encouragement (and some pointers). It is fair to say that by the end of the day, he didn't feel like a stranger. I am always reminded of him when I look at this painting.

NOT AVAILABLE, Red Bridge over Sylvan Creek, Belle Isle State Park,

7/16/19 & 7/17/19, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Red-Purple / Orange / Green Minor Chord

Petite Côte Conservation Area & Fighting Island,

6/25/19, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Blue-Green / Purple/Orange Minor Chord


Enrico Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant and Rockwood Landfill Beyond Pointe Mouillée State Game Area,

11/29/19 & 12/11/19, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Palette: Blue-Green / Purple / Orange Minor Chord

State Land, Bald Mountain State Recreation Area,

11/26/19, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11", Palette: Blue-Purple / Green / Orange Minor Chord

NOT AVAILABLE, Red Maple Above Union River, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park,

Painted during the Friends of the Porkies Artist in Residency at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, 10/14/19, Oil on canvas, 14'" x 11", Palette: Red-Purple / Orange / Green Minor Chord


Ruins of the Union Mine Stamp Mill, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park,

Painted during the Friends of the Porkies Artist in Residency at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, 10/8/19 & 10/9/19, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Palette: Blue-Green / Yellow / Red Major Chord

Little Union Gorge, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park,

Painted during the Friends of the Porkies Artist in Residency at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, 10/2/19-10/4/19, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14", Palette: Red-Orange / Yellow / Blue Major Chord


Mamajuda Shoal (Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge) and Hennepin Point,

8/6/19, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Red-Purple / Blue / Yellow Major Chord


Mamajuda Shoal is named after an indigenous woman who used to camp on Mamajuda Island during fishing season. The small island and its light house washed away because of erosion. The shoal is now a National Wildlife Refuge. Hennepin Point was once a repository for byproducts of chemical manufacturing. It is named after Father Louis Hennepin, a Roman Catholic Priest and Missionary who accompanied René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle on an expedition to the Great Lakes region in the 17th century.

SOLD, Rat Island, Pointe Mouillée State Game Area,

7/4/19, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Orange / Yellow-Green / Blue-Purple Minor Chord

Mud Island (Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge) and Fighting Island,

7/9/19, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", Palette: Yellow-Green / Orange / Purple Minor Chord


Mud Island is a human-made island, created out of dredge material. It is now a National Wildlife Refuge that is closed to the public. Fighting Island was once used as a site to deposit industrial waste. The environment there is undergoing rehabilitation and it is being used as a place to educate nearby Canadian schoolchildren about biology and ecology.