#Pace16 Day 6

The Last Day

I woke up with that strange sensation that one feels when out of town friends or relatives, who have stayed with you, pack up and head for home. The hugs and waves and “see you soon” as the car drives off down the road and you close the door to the quiet house still filled with the laughter that filled the room not twenty minutes earlier . Although it wasn’t truly over, it was lingering – sitting in the passenger seat beside me as I drove up to Picacho Peak State Park for the last paint out.


It didn’t look anything like this when we were there.

The park is beautiful although I preferred Catalina State Park for its lush riparian areas. After paying for my park pass, I drove around exploring as much as I could to see what the park had to offer. It is essentially a small (very small) mountain range with sloping approaches covered in a variety of cacti and other scrub vegetation. I parked, put my pack on, and headed out to find the “perfect” spot to paint.


Researcher Stumbles Across the Remains of Wandering Painter

After I think an hour of
wandering around in the desert heat I was reminded of “Moses Syndrome” – a term I first heard from Stefan Baumann, artist and instructor which refers to an artists who’s spends far to much time looking for the “Promised Land”. Someday I’ll wander out too far and I may not come back.


I finally decided on a spot I passed fifty minutes earlier… sigh.



I joined Guy Fish who I met in the parking lot and passed not once, but two times in my quest before finally giving up needing company rather than visual perfection. I have to say the company turned out to be far better than the painting although it did start off promising. I had four instructors come by – Tim Oliver who reminds me of John Goodman said he liked the overall composition. I had only done a sketch at that oint. Next was Cindy Baron and I believe Kathryn Stats who liked my block in and gave me some great advice regarding small adjustments to composition.
Two hours pass and Bill Anton came by. We exchanged greetings and talked about the heat and he asked how I was doing although I could tell by the look on his face that he could plainly see the carnage inflicted on the poor little 9×12 panel. We joined hands, said a prayer and he said “thats a wipe off” before walking away taking a few snaps for reference and disappearing into the brush. I gave in, packed up and headed back to Tucson where dinner with friends was going to be a welcome end to an overall great day.

I learned a lot from that wipe off and hanging out with new friends in the desert heat. You won’t have success every time you go out but as long as you take something away from it you’ve ultimately achieved what you set out to do.







#Pace16 – Day 5

Me Painting SmallToday is the last day for convention scheduled events…I know, sad.  As has been the routine, Bootcamp started off the morning with Eric Rhoads presented a great marketing system to help artist who are not the most marketing savvy (wait…that would be most of us) generate more sales quickly and help propel their careers forward using materials that are tailored specifically for artists that help make connections to new collectors.

My next session was on the smaller Demo Stage where Dario Falzon was showing how he quickly moves from Block In to finished painting – and I’ll add effortlessly. Wonderful stuff.


Dario Falzon

Next up was Curt Walters. A master impressionist landscape artist who has spent a great deal of his professional career painting The Grand Canyon. He has been heralded as “The Greatest Living Grand Canyon Artist” by  Art of the West Magazine in 1997. His work was nothing short of astonishing.


Curt Walters

Bill Anton

Ball Anton

As if that weren’t enough, Bill Anton was on The Main Stage and Qiang Huang was on the demo stage. Not to mention, the Closing Ceremony’s was right after that and the Expo was shutting down. I was torn and flipped between all three. After Bill Anton was done his painting of a horse on the prairie he turned to the audience and said “this is the most important thing I need to do” at which point, he took out a cloth and wiped it all off saying “it’s just an exercise”. He got a standing ovation.


Qiang Huang

The closing ceremonies were what was expected. A public thank you to everyone who made the convention happen. They also announced that next  years convention will be held in San Diego!

The Paint Out was supposed to be held in Old Tucson but I decided to back to Catalina State Park. It was close and very inspiring. I was joined again by Pamm and her husband Paul. As we were painting, Paul could hear a deep thrumming base noise coming from  somewhere in the woods next to him. It turned out to be a huge bees nest in the broken limb of a Mesquite tree. Cool. As it turned out I was painting a Mesquite tree about 50 ft from where they were standing. This one turned out pretty good.

Mesquite Tree

Grant Waddell

#Pace16 Day 4


Me Painting SmallWell another early start but well worth it. Bootcamp started with a chat with Stuart Johnson who is the owner and founder of Settlers West Gallery here in Tucson. The first name he mentioned was Harley Brown who is a legend in pastel  portraiture!

Harley Brown

Harley Brown

He was the first professional artist to critique a painting I had done a very long time ago. Not only critique it but demonstrate what he meant by reflected light and or lost edges by using his finger to “blend” some of the still wet paint of some trees into the still wet paint of a small white house. It was great to hear his name again in such a creative environment.


Jove Wang

The first demo on The Main Stage was Jove Wang who is an incredible artist from China. With the help of his wife’s english speaking skills, he painted a portrait live on stage. It was incredible. Jove paints with incredibly deliberate strokes and an attention to an inner artistic sense which pours out through his brush onto the canvas. I actually got slightly emotional while I was watching. It’s the way I would like to able to paint. From something deep inside that manifests itself in artistic expression.

After that was a great panel discussion on an art video project called “A Timeless Legacy – Women Artists of Glacier National Park” 


Amery Bohling

Then Amery Bohling – A great young artist who is starting to really get a name for herself.

Then Lunch outside in the shade followed by Paul Kratter who did a demo on the demo stage called Importance of the sketch. Great work!


Paul Kratter

Then it was paint out time! We headed off to the incredibly beautiful Catalina State Park and by we I mean The talented and tenacious Pamm Cuipa and her husband Paul. After a couple of hours and after the sun set forcing me to stop.

I ended up here. It’s missing a few things which I’ll add later.



Grant Waddell

Overall a great day




#Pace16 – Day 3

Me Painting SmallSo, tonights post is going to be a short one. It was a busy and awesome day! Up at 5am to get ready for the 30 minute drive to the resort. Arrived by 6 am to get seats for Art Marketing Bootcamp.

This morning featured a marketing powerhouse – Lee Milteer.

“an intuitive business coach, best-selling author, blogger, award-winning professional speaker, and TV personality. She is the founder of the Millionaire Smarts® coaching program for entrepreneurs and is the author of 11 books and over a hundred audio and video programs. Lee is a regular guest on national TV and radio shows and has appeared as an expert guest on CBS, NBC, ABC FOX, CTV, QVC, PBS, and CNN.” – PACE website

It was a great listen with lots (too much) to take in – just going to buy her book!

First one up on the Main Stage was none other than Matt Smith. An amazing painter and an even better speaker!  Have a look at his work here.


Matt Smith

Next up was a man I had the pleasure of meeting at the STRADA booth (after all, he was the brainchild behind it) His name? Bryan Mark Taylor. He gave a presentation on Masters Mind – which examines the effects of neuroscience and clinical psychology on developing habits that have a direct effect on the brain and it’s ability to adapt and change through practice and positive reinforcement.


Bryan Mark Taylor

After that (as if all this wasn’t enough) was a dual painting demo with Dave Santillanes and James Willis. I have to say, the dual demo was an awesome way to showcase and present two Painting Powerhouses such as these. From an audience point of view we had to great painters onstage who took turns commenting on what they were doing as well as answering questions on the fly. Then there was the added benefit of the spontaneous banter between the two. It was great fun!

Dave S

Dave Santillanes

james W

James Willis

Thank the good lord it was such after that because I was flipping starving!

The afternoon started out with a glazing demo by an amazing young artist “who has become a leader in the revival of the techniques and philosophy of the Hudson River School.” I came back to my seat and and saw what I thought to be a finished painting – albeit very monotone . it a skilled hand it was transformed through glazing into an incredibly deep subtly colourful finished product. His name was Erik Koeppel.


From 4-7 we all went out onto the resort grounds to paint. I struggled through this one as I found the subject unfamiliar and quickly changing. I tried to garb the initial values but was way off from the beginning. It turns out you can’t start a Saguaro Cactus the way you start a pine tree… I managed ok but wasn’t happy with the result. It’s ok though, one more bad painting out of my system – only 1,241 to go!

After a quick dinner of salad out of tupperware with my painting companion Pamm Cuipa, we headed to watch one of my favourite painters Stefan Baumann give a demo about nocturne painting. Stefan is a great speaker!


Stefan Baumann

One of the best things I’m learning is that even the respected pro’s are human and mess up a lot of paintings – the stories are pretty funny but the important lesson is that growth requires vulnerability.  

Back to the trailer for a bite, shower and bed. Up again at 5 for tomorrows events – can’t wait!

#PACE16 – Day 2…

Me Painting SmallSo today was the big day – the start of The Plein Air Convention and Expo! Starting at 1 pm with an art business symposium followed by  the Opening Ceremony. Th morning was free time and I decided to head out to Saguaro National Park. After driving 40min through the city which included several construction sites I finally arrived and found out that the Park charges $10 and from what I could tell was a landscape just filled with Saguaro Cactus. Nice but with the amount of time I had I wasn’t willing to part with the $10 for an hour Saguaro after Saguaro. Back to the trailer and lunch then off to the Symposium.

When I got to the resort I was pleased to see the Expo was open with all the vendors and their wares – an artists dream! There is some very cool stuff! I was disappointed that the venue for the Symposium was too small. I did;t get a seat and stood in the door to watch but only for a bit. I decided to go and pick up some of the supplies I needed which I couldn’t take on the plane – Gamsol and Galkyd from Gamblin. And, I picked up an umbrella called Shade Buddy for 1/2 price! Greta deal at $69US.

The opening ceremonies at 4 were amazing. They opened with a small western skit put on by Eric Rhoads and some of the artist speakers which included a duel – 10 paces and… draw! And they drew each other on large easels. Great fun! The Salon Award winners were announced and there were two lifetime achievement awards. One was to Ken Auster  awarded posthumously and the other was to Dean Mitchell.- Both incredible artists. 


Ken Auster

Dean Mitchell

Dean Mitchell

The evening concluded with a wonderful cocktail reception where I met Lori Putman, Bryan Mark Taylor, Matt Smith and Bill Anton. More to come over the next few days from these folks!

Back to the trailer for a good night sleep. Up early tomorrow for Eric Rhoads Business Bootcamp!




#PACE16 Day one…


Me Painting SmallSo today started out with a VERY early start. Up as close a we could to 3am… get dressed load the car making sure we hadn’t forgotten anything (passport) and headed for the airport. Got dropped off-kiss kiss hug hug – and into the United Airlines line which had about 100 people in it. Wait for it – I’m supposed to be on a Delta flight! Out of line and down to the Delta check in where I’m told I have to fill in the Customs Declaration which I dutifully do at the little desk. Then run over to the kiosk checkin and start padding away at the screen until it asks me to scan my passport… um, where is my passport? Not this pocket, nope, not this one, and (nervous tick) not… this one either…hmmmm. Panic engulfs my whole head. I can hear the blood pounding in my ears. I look over to the little desk and see someone picking up said passport and I duck under the cattle herding straps and smile awkwardly and take it from her ignoring her puzzled expression. Back to the kiosk, get everything typed in and viola! Boarding passes are spit out. Then through the customs and onto the gate which turned out to be in a small war zone. It’s totally under construction with white plywood walls, plastics sheets draped everywhere and complete with banging pipes. To top it off a new mother with a slightly glazed expression sits beside me going on the virtues of Tylenol in keeping her baby quite – quickly adding that she (the baby) has recently had her shots…. Onto the plane which is a very tiny jet and old to boot. We sit on the tarmac for about 15 minutes for no apparent reason then lurch into action taxing to the other end of the airport which, for those of you who know about YYC, that can taker awhile. Delta seemed to have to wait for every West Jet flight that crossed its path and we must have stopped a dozen times.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 12.41.02 AMThen my favourite part – Takeoff which has always meant the adventure has begun. Nothing to report here but the view was spectacular coming out of Calgary and the flight to Salt Lake was pretty uneventful. I have to say – Salt Lake City is pretty interesting. Flat with mountains rising up out of nowhere – no foothills or anything.  Tucson is beautiful. A modern city nestled in a very harsh environment. Lots of crazy looking greenery that looks very angry up close. The drive into the Oro Valley which is where the convention is being held is stunning. Can’t wait to paint here! Even in the inner city – it’s very rich!

Stone Patio

Stone Patio

Tucson Day 1-2 Tucson Day 1-3

Cactuses are blooming

Cactuses are blooming

Some Crazy Tree

Some Crazy Tree

Tucson Day 1-6 Tucson Day 1-7 Tucson Day 1-8 Tucson Day 1-9



Tucson Day 1-11



The Worlds Largest Gathering of Plein Air Painters

Me Painting SmallSo… what is PACE? It’s the largest gathering of Plein Air painters in the world and it’s happening in Tucson this year from April 15-19. I am lucky enough to be going because I’m also lucky enough to be married to an amazingly supportive woman who gave this experience to me as a gift for my birthday last year. She got on the monthly payment plan which makes it easier.

So I’m going to attempt to be a Social Media Powerhouse and Tweet, Instagram and Facebook my way through this amazing event. Have a look below at some of the details.

Where I’m Staying…

All I can say is amazing – from the photo’s anyway! Slate patio with a Chiminea (I always thought it was Chimerea) and a great elevated patio to have a cold beer at the end of the day. More to come after I get acquainted.

Unique Retreat


It’s Happening Here…

Looks like great place to hang out by the pool. If your’re staying there – I think my place is WAY better!

El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort



And It’s Near The Santa Catalina Natural Area…

The painting possibilities are endless!

Santa Catalina Natural Area

Santa Catalina