Chester: A Demonstration

As many of may know, I really enjoy painting cattle and other farm animals.  They have a simple, unassuming manner to them that I really find attractive.  I found this bull on a recent trip to the wine country of Sonoma Valley.  I have included a number of photographs to give you a general idea of what my approach is for one of these cattle portraits.

Diagram 1: The painting is a 24 x 22 and I’ll be working from a studio study that I completed a couple of weeks ago. I begin each piece with a general drawing of the important shapes and features of the cattle just to get an idea of where everything finds itself on the canvas.   I then begin to block in all the shadows in the piece using a mix of darker warm and cools.  Most of my values at this point are what I consider my darkest darks in any given area. I’ll lighten up these areas as the painting continues to move forward.

Diagram 1














Diagram 2: In this stage you can see that most, if not all, of the shadow areas are blocked in.  Again, notice the combinations of warms and cools in the the colors.  This stage is still very rough and is designed to simply tell me how the balance of light and shadow are working together.  How are my shadows? are they too dark? Too cool? too Warm? In this stage I’m working very quickly to get everything blocked in without getting bogged down in any details.

Diagram 2














Diagram 3:  In this stage I lay in the background.  In this case I’m using a dark steely blue which compliments the colors in the cattle it self.  The value is very close to the value of the lower part of the cattle and lightens and gets slightly cooler as it gets closer to the top. I also start painting the light on the cattle.  It’s hard to see in the photo but I’m using combinations of cools and warms that are of the same value to create the light.  The same is true of those areas in shadow. The play of warm and cool colors that are very close in value is key in good picture making.

Diagram 3














Diagram 4:  In this stage I’m continuing to lay in the light and I’m also starting the lighten up the shadows and adding more reflected light, especially in the shadows of the face.  Notice how cool the shadows have become. I’ll continue this process of refining colors and values until the painting is finished. I’ll also be softening edges through out the painting, you may notice this on the final piece seen in diagram 5

Diagram 4














Diagram 5:  Here’s the final piece.

Diagram 5: Chester, 24 x 22














Diagram 6:  Here’s a shot of the set-up including the study I used to complete the larger painting of Chester.

Diagram 6: Studio Set-Up












It’s difficult to capture every step required to create a painting in this blog format, let me know if you have any questions regarding my process that I may not have shared in this post.  I’ll do my very best to answer any questions you might have.

I’ll be starting a series of monthly in-studio demonstrations starting November 28th, 2012. (Yes, tomorrow)  If you’re interested in attending these demonstrations just sign up for my newsletter which will contain monthly dates for each of the demonstration.
I hope to see you.


Painting & Biking: How the 2 Work Together

As many of you may know I love biking and painting.  The great thing about these 2 passions of mine is that they really do go hand in hand.  My wife, Janice, and I recently planned a bike ride in wine country, wine country in the fall, that is.  Now I’ve spent a lot of time in wine country photographing and painting the landscape in all seasons.  But a bike ride through the wine country of Sonoma is something I haven’t done. Why didn’t I think of this before?

We started out in the quaint square of downtown Sonoma and we headed north towards Santa Rosa on Highway 12, right through the heart of Sonoma’s wine country.  It was a beautiful ride, although a little dangerous at times.  The shoulder consisted of little more than a white line and maybe 2 inches of shoulder with a few 2-3 foot drop offs right next to the shoulder, very exciting to say the least.  The fall colors were beautiful.  The great thing about being on a bike is the fact that you’re able to see so much more.  You’re more likely to take that little road to see where it leads, hopefully it doesn’t lead to a guy in overalls with a gun in his hand yelling at you to get off his property. (Thankfully nothing like that happened on this ride) The road less traveled often leads to some pretty spectacular, often rarely viewed scenes.  Traveling relatively slow means you just see that much more.  Driving through at 50 miles an hour is nice if you just want to get somewhere as quickly as possible, but if really want to see, try riding a bike or just walking.  This ride wasn’t about seeing how fast we could finish the 5o mile loop.  It wasn’t about trying to see how fast we could climb Bennet Valley Road.  It was about simply seeing. It was about smelling the grape harvest in the air.  It was about slowing down and enjoying all the wine counrty had to offer.This is a good lesson for life as well.  “Stop and Smell the Roses” is how, I believe, the saying goes.

Some paintings will certainly come out of this trip, I’ve already finished a portrait of a sheep and a bull.  Stayed tuned as I post some of those images.

One our big dreams is to paint France while riding our bikes throughout the countryside. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy some of the pics taken along the way.

Missing Friends & Painting on Location

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to really get out and paint.  While painting for my last show at New Masters Gallery in Carmel, I found myself painting in the studio a lot.  I enjoy painting in the studio with all of it’s creature comforts, like no wind, no hot sun beating down on me, no threat of rain, no bugs crawling up my legs just when I’m about to lay down that most important brush stoke, nobody yelling at me to get off their property and no Jack-Wagons honking their horn just as they pass me on the road.  But you know what? I really miss all these things.  But most of ll I missed hanging out with other painters.

In the past 2 weeks I’ve spent some time painting with my good friends Kim Lordier, Jesse Powell, Brian Blood and Laurie Kersey.

We spent a lot of time painting but we also spent a lot of time just hanging out and talking. We talked about more than just art, we talked about or families and life. We talked about the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series.  We discussed the pro and cons of the Ipad II versus the Ipad Mini and talked about our struggling economy and the upcoming elections.  We ate good food & wine (Brian Blood is an amazing cook.) We watched the news as Hurricane Sandy was making landfall in New York.

As you can probably see, It was really good for my soul to get out again. But not just to paint, to reconnect with friends. That was the real blessing to my soul.

Here are some shots from my recent excursions.

Kim working on her pastel

My painting of the hanging Petunia’s.

Laurie Kersey, Jesse Powell and Brian Blood at Garapatta

Jesse Powell painting from the cliffs at Garapatta.

On the precipice

Newsletter Launch

I’m pleased to announce that we have finally launched our first Kevin Courter Fine Art Newsletter.  In this news letter you’ll find information on recent events, photo’s from painting excursions, workshops & demos, new paintings, paintings exclusively available through Kevin Courter Fine Art and more.  If you’d like to receive this monthly newsletter please go to my website to sign-up, or you can view the first newsletter here.

These two paintings,and more, are exclusively available through Kevin Courter Fine Art.  If you’re interested in receiving more information and pricing on these paintings, or others, just send me an email.


Pumpkins & Cornstalks, 12 x 16


Moonlit Surf, 13 x 9