Pipestone National Park, and Fall, oil paintings of Minnesota and South Dakota

Pipestone National Park, 11×14 inch oil painting

Here’s a proper photo of the Pipestone National Park painting. The park is just over the South Dakota border into Minnesota. It’s a gorgeous park, and we were lucky enough to get a tour of the 25 thousand year old artwork (which blew my mind), before going on a stroll by this waterfall where I took a few photos to paint from.

Fall Progress

Fall, 48×72 inches, oil on canvas, commission.

I think there will be just a few more touches to finish up Fall, and then off to Winter! All three of the paintings I have done so far have a wonderful presence in person. I am loving panting this big!

This week has been dedicated to making sure everything supports those focal trees. Yellow ocher and yellow and a terracotta red and violet are distributed throughout the painting in an effort to give that feeling of the lovely spectrum of colors in the fall. I’m trying to balance peacefulness with vibrancy. (I’d love your comments!)

Many of the elements in the painting have been brought out until they’re too much, and then pushed back just a little. The clouds got very dramatic for a couple days, but yesterday I decided they were distracting from the trees rather than supporting them. The nice thing about pushing them back is that the sky now has a lovely depth that I just can’t capture with a photo…

I did love those clouds, which is why they lasted for two days. But I don’t mind painting out things that I love. In this case, I took a photo so I can paint it again on its own canvas.

The last thing to go in is a grouping of birds on the shoreline.


As I paint, things move around for better composition. Yesterday I checked my measurements again to make sure the horizon would still match up with Summer, below left. Because of the shelves in my studio I can’t just line the paintings up right next to each other, so I use a tape measure. I needed to move my horizon up an inch, and wanted to get the back shoreline level to make the composition soothing.

So yesterday for the first time I used a level as a painting tool!

It made me think about an art teacher who said “if you want a strait line, use a ruler.”

I think we were discussing why non-artists use the phrase “I can’t draw a straight line” to mean they can’t draw, when in art school we spent a decent amount of time and effort on drawing un-straight lines. Beautiful lines that get fat and thin, lines that curve and break.. But yesterday I did want a straight line. Or, at least, a level one.



Happy Spring!

Here’s the little robin’s next outside my studio.



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