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Plein Air Easton! 2013

If it is summer then it is time for Plein Air Easton in Easton, MD from which I have just returned. This was my fourth year as a competition artist and I am proud to say that this year I won a major award...more about that later.

PAE! is now the largest event of it's kind in the country. As the artists were leaving on Sunday we were informed that the event sold over $300,000 worth of wet art in two and a half days! Run by The Avalon Foundation, I can also tell you that it is the most impeccably organized event of it's kind. There is no detail too small to escape their attention. The artists are made to feel so welcome and comfortable that I have come to think of the event as my home away from home for ten days in July. The infamous mid-Atlantic July heat was present but it is something that we all accept and try to deal with as best we can.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found a way to get good photograps of the paintings while out on the road. Some of what follow were taken with my phone but were the best I could manage.

This first image was the first I painted down in the lovely town of Oxford early Saturday morning.


"Oxford Morning Solitude" 9 x 12 o/c sold

Saturday evening featured the gala opening and welcome dinner for the artists and collectors held at one of the many magnificent private residences along the river. All the artists set up and painted, giving the collectors a chance to mingle with us, meet us and get a feel for the work we do. I had just finished my painting and had it sitting on my easel when suddenly it was spotlighted from above!



This next painting was special to me for a number of reasons. I was invited one evening, along with a few of the other artists, to dinner at the home of one of the organizers. Perched on a bluff above one of the rivers, there was a long, beautifully set table. Great food, great company, lots of good wine, fireflies rising out of the grass...the kind of evening you never forget! I did this nocturne from memory two days later (something I've always wanted to attempt) and was very happy with the result.


"A Summer Evening Remembered" 11 x 14 o/c sold

My friend Cindy Baron, who is a wonderful painter, invited me to go painting with her one evening at a private home that she had access to. She promised me that the views were great in every direction...and she was not exaggerating!


"Moonrise Over Le Gate's Creek" 10 x 8 o/c sold

Which brings me to the big news! The final Saturday in Easton is for "Quick Draw". All of the competition artists along with a number of people, about 200 artists in total, set up in a small, defined area of downtown Easton and have two hours, from 10AM until noon, to produce a painting. Afterwards, we have to frame it quickly and then set it up on our easel on Harrison Street where people can view and purchase the work and where the juror can make his decisions. The competition juror this year was the great Don Demers who is one of the foremost marine painters in the world today.

I am very humbled and proud to be able to tell you that I was awarded first place in the Quick Draw! Don further honored me by purchasing the winning painting (actually, I don't know which means more to me, the award or the fact that he saw fit to add it to his collection!). Following is an image of the winning painting and a photograph of me making my way through the huge crowd to the awards platform. A day I'll never forget!


"Red, White and Blue" 10 x 8 o/c sold

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Plein Air Easton 2012

Easton! The word brings joy to the heart of any plein air painter…especially those who have been juried into the event as I was fortunate enough to be for my 3rd consecutive year. Plein Air Easton takes place every year around the 3rd week in July in Easton, MD which is about halfway down the Delmarva Peninsula. A combination of fabulous coastal views, rolling farmland and a lovely historic and picturesque village ensures plenty of painting possibilities. It is also the best run event that I know of from the organizers of The Avalon Foundation, the entire community and a small army of very dedicated volunteers who all work very hard to make things run smoothly and with incredible efficiency.

For those of you who might not read this entire post I will get to the big news right at the outset…I won an award! “The Utrecht Award of Excellence for Best Use of Light.” Trust me when I tell you that winning an award in Easton is no easy task and, considering the extremely high level of competition, is something for which I am very honored, proud and humbled. I did not get a good photo of the winner but do have the following shot of it hanging on the wall in the awards room.

 

 

"Moored at Dawn" 8 x 10 o/c Sold

 

The competition was extended by an extra day this year and 2 “pre-paint outs” were added as well so I was on the road for 11 days. This is made much easier by the availability of “host families”, people in the community who are generous enough to open their doors to the artists for the duration of the event. I stayed with a lovely couple just south of downtown Easton and they were most accommodating with the crimp that I’m sure my schedule put in their usual routine.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland in July means heat and while the heat was not as bad as in years past we still had a couple of blistering days in the middle days of competition. Most of us try to get out for the early light, crash at the host’s house in the midday and then head out again in the late afternoon to take advantage of the late day/evening light.

One nice surprise was an offer to 3 competition artists to paint Billy Bragg while he performed at The Avalon Theater in downtown Easton on Sunday night. I was one of the 3 artists chosen and set up my easel against the wall to the left of the stage. Bragg split his set into two parts; the first had him sitting and playing his tribute to the music of Woody Guthrie on an acoustic guitar and the second set featured him standing and playing his own music on electric guitar. I chose to paint him during the first set, when he would be reasonably inactive. This set only lasted about 50 minutes but I worked like mad to get the following piece done. It is by no means finished but it had an energy that I liked…and Billy Bragg got himself a new fan in me!

 

 

"Billy Bragg" 11 x 14 o/c I'll probably clean this up a bit but liked the "roughness" of it.

 

Aside from a couple of quick notes there is no need to talk about each of the following paintings. They are all typical of the area and represent about half of my output for the week. I have not worked out a good way to get good photos of my work while out on the road so that the following are all I have to share with you. In all I produced 11 paintings and sold 6… it was a good week for me!

 

 

"Cooke's Hope Pine" 11 x 14 o/c Painted not far from my host family's house just after sunrise.

 

 

"Evening Shadows at the River House" 8 x 10 o/c. My first painting of the week at welcoming dinner held at The River House on the grounds of The Easton Club.

 

 

"Pentaquad's dawn" 12 x 12 o/c. My last painting of the competition painted at dawn on Thursday morning. This rather idyllic scene was painted on the shoulder of an overpass on a very busy road! The title refers to one of the characters in Michener's "Chesapeake".

 

 

"Sunflowers and Cumulus" 11 x 14 o/c Sold

 

 

"The Robert Morris Inn" 12 x 16 o/c. A rare time where I didn't finish during the first session and returned the next evening. The Inn sits just across the street from one of the oldest running, private ferrys in the country. I think the Inn was built in 1710.

 

 

"Tilghman Morning Light" 11 x 14 o/c. Painted out at the very picturesque sea side village of Tilghman Island.

I leave in a couple of days for an invitational event in New Hope, PA. More on that after I return.

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link under each image to view purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs.

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Easton and the 4th of July

Just a quick post this week as I am busy, busy, busy! I’m getting prepared to leave for my 3rd year at Plein Air Easton in Easton, MD. Easton is one of the best attended and very well run juried events and is the premiere plein air event on the East Coast. It has been expanded a bit this year, so much so that I’ll be painting for almost eight days! It is a beautiful area on the Eastern Shore of Maryland…great coastal scenes along with a lot of bucolic farm land. We paint for a week and then submit ten pieces for the show of which we designate two as our competition pieces. The exhibition opens on Friday night the 20th when sales are usually very brisk and the awards are announced. It is a very exciting night…Friday night in Easton is, for me, second only to Christmas Eve!

 

The only draw back is that it is the Eastern Shore of Maryland in late July and it is hot! We saw regular heat indexes over the past couple of years in the 115F range. But being uncomfortable is all part of the plein air experience! I will have a full report with images of the paintings when I return.

 

I did get out painting a bit over the July 4th holiday. I found a lovely spot to set up at Crescent Beach in my old home town of Glen Cove, NY. It’s not often that I manage to get set up in the shade of a tree with a cool breeze blowing in off of the water. I was happy with this painting…it looks like home.

 

 

"Crescent Beach July 4th 2012" 11 X 14 oil on canvas. Click onthe link for purchasing details.

 

I normally like to include an American flag in any paintings that I do on a holiday such as July 4th and had the following scene all picked out in advance. However, when I arrived on the morning of the 4th it was a bit overcast and the view just didn’t work for me. I returned the next day and conditions were just right so I named this one…

 

 

"The Fifth of July" 12 x 12 oil on canvas. Click on the link for purchasing details.

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Thoughts on Inspiration

I’m not too picky when it comes to inspiration…I take it when it happens. Often the most sought out and planned subject comes to nothing while the flash inspiration seems to, more often than not, almost paint itself.

 

Recently a friend sent a photograph to me that she thought might be something I’d enjoy painting. And she was right…an old barn/shed with a rusted metal roof, part of it offering a peek into dark, mysterious shadows complete with a foreground of gorgeous bluebells. The oranges of the rusty roof worked very nicely along with their natural blue compliments.

 

As most of you know, I am an on site landscape painter and it is usually with some trepidation that I choose to work inside from photographic reference. When I do, I endeavor to get the same kind of look and feel that I get when I work out doors. I try to not get too hung up in the detail and work at the same pace I do out doors to achieve a painterly look. In this kind of situation I try to make the photo my own.

 

This first image is a small sketch which I did during my class at The Village Artist in Huntington. As I mentioned before, I am really just trying to make an impression of what is before me so I didn’t spend more than about 90 minutes on this. As a way of saying thanks for the reference I have decided to give this sketch to my friend who sent the photo to me.

 

 

"Rhapsody in Varying Shades of Blue" 12 x 9 oil on canvas. Private Collection.

 

I liked the sketch a lot. I rearranged the foreground flowers into a very natural path which leads the viewer’s eye back to the shed. I thought the composition worked very well and decided to take the whole one step further. Using mostly my sketch, I decided to work this up into a larger piece. The problem becomes compounded now as A larger surface offers more area which artists will sometimes use as an excuse to pile in more detail. I wanted to avoid this trap and try to keep the larger finish as loose and painterly as the small sketch. I gave myself an afternoon to paint this to further lessen the temptation to go too far.

 

 

"Bluebells" 20 x 16 oil on canvas. Sold

 

The next, small painting is another very fast attempt at capturing a fleeting light effect. I wanted to maintain a warm glow in this piece and, too that end, under-painted in warm, orange earth colors before adding in the true colors. I’m pleased with the raking light effect on the shadow side of the near house. This painting reminds me of the summers my family spent on Fire Island.

 

 

"Beachfront Property" 9 x 12 oil on canvas. Click on the link under the image for purchasing details.

 

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link under each image to view purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs.

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Wayne 2012, Etc.


I can’t believe that it’s been almost six weeks since I last sent out an update! That is proof of how busy I have been with the start of the competition season. At least no one can accuse me of clogging up their inbox with numerous email updates!

 

I participated in the Wayne Arts Center’s Plein Air event in Wayne, PA from May 15th-19th. Wayne is just a bit northwest of Philadelphia and boasts some lovely, rolling farmland dotted with a number of old, fieldstone barns. One place where I enjoy painting very much is Valley Forge National Park. Last year this event was marred by constant rain from beginning to end. This year featured a driving rain early on the first day followed by some of the nicest weather that could be hoped for! I managed to get ten paintings done and on the wall and am happy to say that, to date, four have sold. I didn’t get great photos of all of them but will post a few here for you to see.

 

 

"Feeding in the Wet Grass" 8 x 10 oil on canvas. Sold

 

 

"Eleinne Painting at Chanticleer" 11 x 14 oil on canvas. Sold

 

 

"The Late, Late Show" 9 x 12 oil on canvas. Available via the Wayne Arts Center, Wayne, PA. Contact me for details.

 

Upon returning from Wayne I took a day or two to work up a larger, more finished painting done from a field sketch and some reference shot during the competition.

 

 

"Ardrossan Barn" 16 x 20 oil on canvas. Sold

 

Following is another sketch done after I returned home from reference shot at Valley Forge. I have a large 30 x 40 canvas that is stretched and has been waiting for some time to have something painted on it. I am considering turning this small study into a larger piece on that canvas.

 

 

Valley Forge11 x 14 oil on canvas. Click on the link for purchasing details.

 

I had a sentimental urge to paint a bit in my old hometown of Glen Cove, NY this past weekend. The weather forecast, which sounded promising, turned out to be anything but during the early part of the weekend but an on site landscape painter has to take what he can get. This was painted at the entrance of Prybil’s Beach where I spent a great deal of time both as a child and as a teenaged hangout. The sky looked pretty grim when I started and the gray buildings against the grayish green trees didn’t seem to offer much. But I was there, had my paints and easel and thought “Oh, what the heck…I’ve got nothing else to do”. So I set up and started cutting away when right when I got to the point of thinking what to do with the sky, the clouds began to part and catch a lovely rim light from the sun. This seemed to imply just the right amount of color and mood.

 

 

"Evening at Prybils" 11 x 14 oil on canvas. Click on the link for purchasing details.

 

I’ve had had a number of suggestions from people from time to time that I ought to consider painting in this next location which is the Glen Cove stop on the Long Island Rail Road. This lovely building has served as a back drop in a number of old movies including the original “Sabrina” with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. I can recall being loaded in to the family car by my Mom and driving down here to pick up my Father on his way home from working in NYC.

 

 

"Morning Rush~Glen Cove Station" 11 x 14 oil on canvas. Sold

 

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link below the painting for purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs in the continental United States. All others please inquire about shipping rates.

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A Mixed Bag


This blog post will not follow any one theme as my posts normally do. Instead this will be a mixed bag of news and new paintings

First of all, I’d like to announce that I will be participating in only two plein air events this summer. All the travel last year got tiring after a while so I only submitted to two events this yaer and am pleased that I have been juried in to both. I will be participating in the Wayne Plein Air Event in Wayne, PA from May 14th-19th. I did Wayne last year and, aside from the fact that it rained literally every day, it was a good, well run event. I am especially happy that I will be participating in my 3rd consecutive Plein Air Easton in Easton, MD from July 14th – 22nd. Easton is just a wonderful, well run and exciting event. I almost look at it as my annual summer vacation. I’ll report on these events when I return from them.

Now, on to the paintings. I’m very pleased that my painting “Fresh Seafood” has garnered my 15th (!) inclusion of the FAV 15% in the monthly BoldBrush competition sponsored by FASO for the month of March. A perfect symmetry of 15s! The FAV 15% is the judge’s favorite 15% of all competition submissions for the month. The painting is still available and I’ll post a link below.

 

 

"Fresh Seafood"13 X 11 oil on canvas. Click on the link below the image for purchasing details.

 

I was approached over the winter by The Huntington Historical Society to do a painting for them. They asked me to do a painting of the Conklin House which was built in the mid 1700s. While it is a nice looking house with good detail and charm, I have to admit I wasn’t too excited about painting it when I first looked it over this past winter. The best side of the house faces north and never gets any direct light on it. Also, because of how it is situated, it was hard to get a good angle on it. A couple of weeks ago I went past it on my way to another appointment but was pleasantly surprised by how the light hit the white fence and also with the nice spring color. I finally found my view!

 

 

"The Conklin House" Not for sale.

 

Next is something very different for me of late but also marks a bit of a return to my roots. Landscape painting is actually somewhat new for me. I was trained as a figure painter and, for the first 25-30 years of my career painted thousands of figures in all of the illustration work that I did. I sometimes think that landscape painting has been a way for me to get away from figure painting for a while. Lately I have been feeling the urge to get back to it and, not really having anything else I wanted to paint yesterday, decided to have a go at it. I was “raised” artistically in a very structured, rigid, academic way with lot’s of preliminary, very tight drawing and studies that preceded the actual painting. This is about a one hour study that I did much in the same way I do my landscape painting…a very fast, loose, ala prima approach.

 

 

"Figure Study"12 X 9 oil on canvas. Click on the link below the image for purchasing details.

 

Finally, I’m happy to announce that I now have prints of my “The Long Island Expressway ~ A Nocturne” available. The original sold rather quickly and I had a lot of requests to make this one available as a print. I also have received early word that this one has already been named to the FAV 15% for April in the BoldBrush competition!

 

 

"The Long Island Expresswat ~ A Nocturne"Signed, limited edition giclee print. Image size 12 X 16. Click on the link below the image for purchasing details.

 

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link below the painting for purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs in the continental United States. All others please inquire about shipping rates.

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Planting Fields Workshop


I spent part of the last three days painting at The Planting Fields Arboretum which is only a mile or two from my house. These gorgeous grounds consist of 409 acres of rolling fields, lovely open areas and many, many different species of trees and flowers as well as the lovely, stone Coe Hall. The Planting Fields is one of my default places to paint and I visit there often.

I had scheduled a one day workshop there with my students who wanted to get outside of our usual classroom environment and get a feel for painting on site. The weather forecast looked great for Saturday, iffy for Sunday (the actual day of the workshop) and great, albeit unseasonably hot for today. I went up on Saturday morning to scout around for some good locations to do my demo as well as suitable locations for the students to paint. I had my painting rig with me in the plein air mobile and couldn’t resist having a go at the following lovely vignette. The structure served as a playhouse for the children of the Coe family who once owned this Gold Coast estate. It’s a delightfully charming little pink building with a whimsical curved roof line and faux thatched roof.

 

 

"The Children's Playhouse" 9 X 12 Oil on Canvas. Click the link for purchasing details

 

The forecasted rain never materialized and Sunday turned out to be another near perfect day. I did my demo in the morning, we broke for a great lunch consisting of a shared plate from everyone and then the students set up and had a go at it in the afternoon.

I walked around with each of them to help find and discuss suitable subject matter. While doing just that with one of them, we stumbled upon the next view. I was so taken by the look of this great natural grouping of shapes and colors that I could hardly get to sleep last night! I went back around noon today to have another look and immediately set up and started slashing away. I think of these motifs as a “plein air still life” The only difference is that I let Mother Nature do the set up and I try not to interfere with what she has accomplished!

 

 

"Lilacs" 12 X 10 Oil on Canvas.  Click the link for purchasing details

 

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link below the painting for purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs in the continental United States. All others please inquire about shipping rates.

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Extremes


This week I have an exercise in extremes to share. Despite the fact that we are just 30 miles east and a suburb of one of the largest cities in the world, there really is a lot of natural beauty here on Long Island and I constantly search it out to paint it. But there is more to the Island than just the coastal beauty and the magnificent variety of trees. There is the infrastructure which, if the artist makes an attempt to handle it properly, can be quite striking as well.

Last Thursday night I was driving home from teaching on the Long Island Expressway. The LIE, Route 495, bisects the Island horizontally all the way from New York City at it’s western end to Riverhead in the east which lies in the crotch of the two forks of the Island, a distance of about 100 miles. It is not always avoidable (though most of us wish it was) and the traffic, especially during the summer Hamptons season can turn it into one long parking lot! However, at night, it is usually not too bad traffic wise and it gets me home from Dix Hills in about a half hour.

For some reason or another I was captivated by the look of it while driving home. The lights are mesmerizing and despite the fact that it was 10PM there did seem to be a lot of notes of color from the brake lights to the exit signs.

So, I decided to paint it. However, this decision brought with it some logistical difficulties. Setting up an easel in the center lane of a 55 MPH highway seemed…risky? And the fact that I wanted to do this at night took away any real possibility of doing it from photographic reference. My solution was to have my wife drive back and forth between a few exits while I studied, tried to get some photographs, and took loads of notes from what I observed. The result was painted largely from memory and very quickly to try to preserve the sense of motion.

 

 

"The Long Island Expressway~A Nocturne"12 X 16 oil on panel. Click on the link below the painting for purchasing details.

 

I spied the next view this past Saturday and thought to head out to do it on Sunday but the weather was bad so I had to wait until this morning. This marked my first trip outdoors, albeit around the corner, to paint this year and it felt good. It struck me when I returned home that the tree looked as jolly, fat, and exuberant as the artist did knowing that spring was finally here!

 

 

"Violets and Marsh Marigolds"12 X 9 oil on canvas. Click on the link below the painting for purchasing details.

 

I am also pleased to announce that I have been juried in to the Wayne Arts Center’s annual plein air event in Wayne, PA. I participated in this event last year and despite the fact that we had non-stop rain really enjoyed it. I hope we have better weather this year.

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Homework

Theoretically we on site landscape painters are supposed to be able to bring what we learn out in the field back into the studio. Having spent hour after hour studying the landscape in natural light we should be able to use that knowledge to "inform" our studio work. Nothing about the local landscape has been interesting to me lately as everything is still just different shades of brown and gray. I decided that this would be a good time to try to put to use what I have been trying to learn out in the field. 

Last Thursday, one of my ALLI students brought in a photo to work from taken in Provence. I was immediately struck by the subtle light and the bright red of the poppies against the greens of the grass and trees. As part of my teaching responsibilities I roam around the class, from student to student, and offer criticism and help and I wanted to get this painting done in one night. It ended up only taking about an hour to do it but I rather liked the furious application of paint in the foreground flowers.

Poppies en Provence 14 X 11 oil on canvas. Sold

 

This next painting is one I had begun on site last year somewhere in Connecticut. I say somewhere because I just happened to stumble on this view and probably couldn’t find it again if I tried! I pulled the unfinished sketch out a few days ago and decided to have a go at finishing it from memory. The title was the name of Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson’s catboat. The Stevenson’s were my teachers and I was thinking about them while I finished working on it.

 

"Little Albie" 11 X 14 oil on panel. Click on the link under the painting for purchasing details.

 

The building in this next one is at the bottom of the hill that we live on. Every time I pass it, late in the afternoon, I always think “Ooh, that light is very nice”. I decided to finally do something about it!

 

"Fresh Seafood" 14 X 11 oil on panel. Click on the link under the painting for purchasing details.

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link below the painting for purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs in the continental United States. All others please inquire about shipping rates.

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Summer Is Coming

The absence of any real snow this year has been a kind of mixed blessing for me. While I would have preferred to be outdoors painting, the lack of snow has left me with the usual brown/gray/dull colors that are normal for my area at this time of year. Since I have not been going out to paint it seemed like a good time to get some commissions out of the way.

This one has been around for quite some time and I finally have it completed (or, almost completed…I need to make a few tweaks here and there.) It was commissioned by the operators of the Cold Spring Harbor Fire House Museum in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. The gentleman who owns it rescued it from the wrecking ball, picked it up and moved it to its current location and meticulously restored it to its original condition.

He contacted me some time ago asking if I would do a painting of it for him to display in the museum. The old illustrator in me was awakened and became excited about the possibility of painting the firehouse when it was a going concern back at the turn of the century. My client agreed and I set off to do my research.

The problem, which I did not consider, was that I am no longer the kind of painter that I was when I was an illustrator. Illustration work involves hours of researching, sketching, and careful rendering over many hours spent working on the same picture. My temperament now is much more along the lines of quickly painting on site, normally finishing a picture in a matter of a couple of hours “alla prima” or in one sitting. While my enthusiasm for the project never waned, I often put the project on hold when the weather was good and I could go out to paint.

I decided that I needed to get this finished and since the “pickings have been slim” around here, I decided to knuckle down and get this done.

 

 

 

"Cold Spring Harbor H&L no.1" Not For Sale

 

But the moment that was completed  I felt the need to bash out a small landscape. If I’m away from it for too long, the lure of the alla prima statement comes back and hits me hard. One of my students showed me a photo during class last week and asked if I thought it would make a good painting. I responded by saying “give it up…GIVE IT UP!” and asked him to email the file to me. I had to keep fighting the urge to put a fly fisherman in, working the tail of that lovely run that comes out of the distance.

 

 

"The Battenkill" 9 X 16 oil on panel. Click on the link below the painting for purchasing details.

 

Summer is coming, my commissions are out of the way, and I’m ready to go out to paint!

 

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link below the painting for purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs in the continental United States. All others please inquire about shipping rates.

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