Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lazy Afternoon - New Daily Oil Painting

Lazy Afternoon
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Gessoed Panel
6" x 6"
Click here to buy this painting.
I moved into a new apartment a couple of months ago. The apartments themselves are nothing fancy, but they are located on lots of land. There's a nice little hotshot pond surrounded by tall pines, and lots of fields and wooded areas all around.  It almost feels like living in the country.
I've been exploring and walking the grounds a lot lately. This view is near my place. On this particular lazy afternoon the sky was a deep blue and the distant tree line took on a reddish hue.  This is a simple composition but I really enjoyed playing with the green and orange grasses in the field.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pink Lady - New Daily Oil Painting of a Water Lily

Pink Lady
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Gessoed Panel
8" x 8"
Click here to purchase this painting.
 I've always thought water lillies are beautiful and had the urge to paint them, but until a couple of years ago I wouldn't let myself. I guess Monet's shadow just loomed too large. I first started painting lillies while I lived in Seagoville. Cedar Creek Lake near Mabank was only 45 minutes or so away and was blanketed in these aquatic plants. After moving back to Southeast Texas I discovered a small canal in Hamshire that is home to a beautiful display of lillies.  I've painted them a few times, but most recently I completed a couple of larger charcoal drawings that are just heightened with light touches of pastel. This small 8" x 8" oil painting on hardboard is derived from one of those drawings. I think the dark blue sky reflected in the water and the deep greens of the pads make a good contrast to the soft pink and whites of the Lily bloom.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bolivar Flats Beach , Towards Galveston - new daily oil painting

Bolivar Flats Beach, Towards Galveston
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Gessoed Hardboard
6" x 9"
Click here to buy this painting.
Bolivar Flats is one of my favorite beaches. It's just before the ferry landing to Galveston and is a birding area. Being so close to the ferry means most people drive right past it in a hurry to get to Galveston often leaving this beautiful stretch of coast unpopulated by people. 

I painted this while I was setup to sell some paintings at The Logon Cafe in Beaumont, Tx as part of their Christmas on Calder event.  After a beautiful morning the weather turned cold and grey in an instant. I didn't sell much, but painting this warm beach and daydreaming of the Gulf Coast and good compoany kept a smile on my face.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas on Calder -- Taking my art to the street

It's been a long time since I've set up to sell my art directly anywhere.  For the most part I sell through galleries and online these days,  but I used to go a few times a year to First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX and set up a booth.  It's a lot of work, but can also be very rewarding.

This week I received an invitation to participate in Christmas on Calder at The Logon Cafe in Beaumont, TX. Since I've been doing so many small daily paintings this seems like a perfect opportunity to take my art to the streets and find a few good homes for some paintings. 

I'd forgotten how much there is to get together for something like this though.  I've spent the morning painting the edges of several small canvases, working out a bit of a flyer to copy and give out, and I've been getting some thoughts together about pricing and checked to make sure my Sales Tax ID is still valid.  There's still a lot to do but since I just found out about this yesterday I'm feeling ok about everything.

Wish me luck, and if you're in the market for a unique Christmas present swing by The Logon Cafe on Calder in Beaumont, TX this Saturday, December 14, 2013 from 10 AM - 6PM and buy some art.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tibideaux's Truck Too - new daily oil painting

Tibideaux's Truck Too
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Oil Primed Linen Panel
5" x 7"
A few weeks ago I painted the old Plymouth truck outside Tibideaux's New Orleans Kitchen in Beaumont, Tx. After I put it up for auction I found out a friend who teaches at my school was bidding on it and determined to win that painting.

Well, unfortunately the bids didn't go her way. I figured I enjoyed painting that old truck the first time so I'd just paint her a new version. This one is a slightly different view. It's not quite as head on as the first, but was just as much fun to paint. I love all the variations in the rusted red body of this beat up old road warrior.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Goose on the Water new Daily Oil Painting and eBay auction

Goose on the Water
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Oil Primed Linen Panel
5" x 7"
Click here to bid in the eBay auction for this painting.
As a painter it's easy to get in a rut.  We find our favorite subjects, our preferred techniques, and we sometimes get comfortable with ourselves and our art.  It's understandable.  I mean, with the investment in materials and time and the difficulty we face with selling our work and trying to make a living, it can feel a little risky to jump out and constantly explore new subjects and push ourselves.  One of the things that I love about doing these small daily paintings is that it allows me the freedom to explore and try my hand at subjects I wouldn't normally think to paint.  This week alone I've painted a landscape, an old rusted truck, a clasic Plymouth car, and now this goose.  Not a bad week for someone who's normally a landscape artist.

In the past I'd never really found myself interested in wildlife, but recently I've developed a bit of a fascination birds.  There's a really nice horeshoe shaped pond at the apartments where I live and I often walk there and enjoy the view.  The play of light on the water and the strong rhythms of the towering pine trees that surround the pond delight me.  The only problem is this goose.  He's a foul tempered fowl, and often charges at the gate with his wings flapping.  As I walk around taking photos he sometimes follows close behind ready to nip at my heels.  I've taken lots of pictures of him too, and luckily on this morning he took to the water rather than my legs.

This small 5" x 7" oil painting was painted in about two hours.  I started with a pretty detailed pencil drawing, then began painting during my lunch break.  I worked in a few minutes here and there and then managed to paint the rippling water and reflections after school.  Water and reflections have always been a favorite of mine, and I'm pretty pleased with this quick rendition.  When it comes to water, I usually find the less I paint the better it looks.

Now it's time to get back to my small pochade box and a new daily painting.  Hmmm.....what will inspire me today?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Daily Painting and eBay Auction for Big Blue Plymouth

1938 Big Blue Plymouth
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Oil Primed Linen Panel
7" x 5"
Click here to bid in the eBay auction for this painting.
 I think every family has at least one car fanatic.  In my clan my older brother Vince is the car guy.  Of course he's much more than just a gear head.  He worked his way through college fixing cars, earned an engineering degree and a Masters, worked building nuclear subs, and been a school teacher and an operator at a refinery. Along the way he's built or re-engineered everything imaginable, from go karts to guitars, muscle cars to tractors, and houses to science projects with his nephews.  He's fixed all of our cars at one point or another, and he's bailed me out of many tight spots.  He's probably the hardest working man I've ever known, the kind of guy that helped make this country great in our golden years, and I respect him more than just about anyone.

Vince used to be a muscle car man all the way.  He always had a thing for Dodge Challengers, but over the years he's also put together MG's, a Model T, and a Harley Cafe Racer to name a few.  For the last several years he's been interested in the early years of the automotive industry.  This painting is of Big Blue, his 1938 Plymouth. 

When I first moved back down to the area Vince loaned me Big Blue for the summer while I was in between cars.  My kids and I loved driving around in this beauty.  At that point it wasn't finished and hadn't been painted, but even in the "raw" there's something magical about an old classic car.  People everywhere want to stop and talk to you or wave as you drive by.  I'm always fascinated watching Vince transform the old and often neglected vehicles he finds into a beautiful and timeless machine.  He's a very analytical guy, but I think there's a bit of art involved too.  He has the ability to look at a piece of metal or a machine and envision what it can be, and he has the skills to make it happen.

This small 5" x 7" oil painting was painted alla prima and done over a period of about 2 1/2 hours.  I actually did the drawing yesterday morning and started painting it a bit at lunch, but I couldn't find much time during my day to work on it so I only got part of the car finished.  I came in this morning and finished the car and the background areas.  I'm kind of on a roll painting cars and have a few more planned.  I don't have the mechanical aptitude of my brother, but I certainly appreciate and admire the skill and beauty of his work.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New daily oil painting "Camp Wisdom"

Camp Wisdom
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
5" x 7"
Click here to bid in the auction for this painting.

If you're thinking of campgrounds in Texas, Dallas probably doesn't come to mind, but tucked away on the south side of the city is Camp Wisdom and it's more than worth the short commute from the city.

Camp Wisdom is the home to Billy Sowell Scout Camp and Cub World. The camp is located 11 miles from downtown Dallas on 371 acres of land. In addition to the camping sites and shooting range, Camp Wisdom has some unique and very cool features including a frontier fort, a life size castle pirate ships, underground tunnel, and more.  My kids and I really enjoyed out campouts here.  You can find out more about this great Circle 10 campground at

This 5" x 7" oil painting on an oil primed linen panel is from my last campout there with my two boys and my daughter.  Not far from the shooting range we stumbled upon this picturesque scene.  I painted this alla prima in about two hours spread out throughout my day. 


Monday, December 2, 2013

Two Pears Too (new daily oil painting)

Two Pears Too
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Gessoed Hardboard
6" x 6"

Still life hasn't ever really been my thing, but every once in a while I feel the urge.  A few months ago I did a small 5" x 7" oil painting of these two pears I called "Lean on Me." I actually drew this 6" x 6" square version at the same time but never got around to painting it until today.

I was interested in the way these two pears just naturally resembled an intimate couple.  The stem of one pear seeems like an arm wrapped around the shoulder of the other.  This is painted on a gesso primed hardboard panel.  I've had pretty mixed results painting on the hardboard in the past.  I have a preference for stiff bristle brushes, but on panel the bristle brushes didn't work very well.  Here I've switched to a softer synthetic and am much happier with the results. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Daily Painting of The Jefferson Theater Marquee in Beaumont

The Jefferson Theater was designed by Emile Weil and built in 1927.  It cost a million dollars and was praised at the time for its Old Spanish style architecture and romantic charm.

After four decades of entertainment splendor, the Jefferson finally closed as a movie theater in 1972.  A few years later the Jefferson Theater Preservation Society formed with the goal of preserving the Beaumont landmark and in 1976 the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation deeded the theater to the JTPS. 

The following decades found many starts and stops and changes and multiple renovation efforts. Altogether more than six million dollars went in to returning the Jefferson to glory.  The theater reopened it's doors in 2003 and serves as a focal point of the performing arts in Beaumont. 

There's a great history of the Jefferson Theater at

This is a 5" x 7" oil painting on oil primed linen board. I didn't get as much time as I wanted on this but it's coming along nicely.  I started with a pretty detailed pencil sketch. Drawing straight lines was never really my thing, but I've always been fascinated with the details of older architecture.  Seems everything had so much more character back then.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Daily Oil Painting "Tibideaux's Truck"

Tibideaux's Truck
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Oil Primed Linen Board
5" x 7"

I'm a sucker for Cajun seafood. Growing up in SE Texas so close to the Louisiana state line it's hard not to find yourself filling your belly with gumbo and catfish.  If you're in the mood for some Cajun grub, Tibideaux's on Calder will hit the spot.  

The atmosphere is rustic. It almost feels like you're outside at a backyard swamp party. I've been there a couple of times. We always sit at the bar to chat with our friend and favorite bartender Alicia. It's a great place for a casual get together, and I will vouch for the shrimp 'n grits. Yum!

This old truck is parked outside. It's rusty and best up to say the least. There's a few holes here and there, flat tires, and the headlights point different directions, but I love the character of this old Plymouth. 

I drew this a couple of days ago but just got around to painting it today. It's a 5" x 7" oil painting on an oil primed linen board and was painted alla prima in a couple of hours. It's the first truck I've ever painted, maybe the first automobile of any kind. I think I'll have to some more. 

Tibideaux's New Orleans Kitchen is located at 5555 Calder Ave in Beaumont, Texas. Stop by and treat yourself to a taste of Lousiana, and check out Tibideaux's Truck while you're there.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Monsieur Gator -- New Daily Painting with Step by Step Photo Montage

"Monsieur Gator"
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas mounted on Board
5" x 7"
 I posted the pencil drawing for this yesterday.  I started painting a little on it during my lunch period, and managed to get in ten minutes here and there throughout the afternoon.  Altogether I worked for about two hours on this little gator.  He turned out to be quite a colorful critter!  Maybe he has a little Mardi Gras in him. One of my friends dubbed him "Monsieur Gator" and that seems like a perfect title to me.

While I painted I took several pictures on my phone of my progress.  Here's a little montage of the different stages of "Monsieur Gator."  I started with a fairly detailed drawing, then worked from the darks to the lights.  Hope you enjoy my little excursion to the swamp.

Step by Step Painting Stages of "Monsier Gator"

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Art Studio, Inc. 30 Bodacious Years!

For 30 years The Art Studio, Inc. has been a fixture in the Southeast Texas arts community.  This Saturday, November 16, 2013, from 7PM - Midnight, they're celebrating this impressive milestone with a blowout bash for the ages.  It'll be an evening of art, music, food, drinks, and more! Several bands will be performing and the gallery walls will be full of art for the annual art sale.

As a young art student at Lamar University, the Art Studio was one of my sanctuaries.  I spent many nights there huddled over my drawing board in the life drawing room trying to perfect my trade.  I'm not so young anymore and I'm still trying to hone my skills, and the Art Studio is still there and going strong despite hurricanes and economic downturns.

Let's all turn out this weekend and make sure TASI is around for another 30 years! I'm donating two paintings to the sale, "Bolivar Flats" is a 12" x 16" oil painting on canvas of one of my favorite local beaches, and "The Fallen" is a 24" x 36" oil painting on canvas inspired by a trip to Lake Mineral Wells.  All proceeds go to support TASI.

The Art Studio, Inc. is located at 720 Franklin in downtown Beaumont. Hope to see you there!

The Fallen
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
24" x 36"

Bolivar Flats
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
12" x 16"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pencil drawing for new daily painting of an alligator

Since moving back to SE Texas, I've had some ideas floating around in the back of my mind about incorporating more regional aspects in my painting. I've always been attracted to the Big Thicket pinewoods and the bayous and swamps of the area. 

A few nights ago my friend and I went for a walk with her dogs. The apartments where we live are on a lot of land with some woods and a canal along the back. While we were walking we heard what sounded like a gator's distinct groan. 

This morning I had that gator on my mind and made this quick pencil drawing on a 5" x 7" canvas board for a small oil paint study today. I have a lot of images and ideas about the distinct landscape and habitat of Southeast Texas swirling around in my head, kind of a primordial ooze. Maybe this will be the start of fleshing those ideas out.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Get Your Foot (and Your Artwork) in the Gallery Door

Submitting artwork to galleries has always seemed like a bit of a crap shoot to me.  Even in the best economic times, art is a highly subjective market.  Everyone has their own tastes and it’s not always easy to pick the right galleries to approach with your artwork.  Submitting your work can be a time consuming process, and depending on the type of submission (mailed images on cd vs. email, etc.) it can also be expensive.
I’ve been spending some time lately looking at galleries in the Houston area and have kind of developed a checklist I keep in mind when deciding which galleries to approach with my work.
1.       Do a little research. Find galleries that show artwork in similar genres to yours and start making a list.  This seems like a no-brainer to me, but there are lots of artists who just fire off submissions to seemingly random galleries.  Galleries often have a very specific focus.  Sending your abstract oil paintings to a gallery that only deals in B&W Photography is probably just wasting everyone’s time involved.
2.       Once you have a few galleries in mind that seem to be a possible fit, dig a little deeper.  What stage are you at in your career compared to the stable of artists the gallery is currently representing (emerging, established, full-blown art world star, etc.)?  If the gallery mainly represents artists with work in large, prestigious museums and institutions and you’ve only shown at the local bake sale, then it’s probably not a good fit.  Ideally you should find galleries that deal with work similar to yours and artists at similar stages of their careers.
3.       Now that you’ve whittled your list down, make sure you know the submission guidelines for each gallery.  Some only take submissions by mail, some prefer email, and I’ve recently run into a few that would rather just take a look at your website.  Some galleries only review submissions from new artists at certain times of the year, and some might not accept submissions at all.  Sometimes this information is listed on the gallery website (often on the contact page or on a page specifically for artists’ submissions.) If it’s not then pick up the phone and call or write an introductory email.  I prefer phone calls because it’s harder to ignore the phone than the email box.  Make sure to ask if there’s a specific person your submission should be addressed to.
4.       Now that you’ve done your research and narrowed your list down you’re ready to prepare your submission.  Make sure you follow their guidelines to the letter, and whatever you do, be professional.  Galleries receive mountains of submissions from artists.  A little respect and common courtesy can go a long way towards getting a response. 
Of course the first and most important thing should be to make strong artwork.  None of this guarantees a gallery will give you the time of day, but in my experience it can help increase your odds.  Even the best of us will face our share of rejection, but that doesn’t mean your art isn’t good, just that it wasn’t a good fit.  Keep plugging away, do your research and you’ll find a home for your work.
Good luck!  If you have any other ideas or suggestions about gallery submissions please share them in the comments section.  I can use all the help I can get too!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New daily painting "Angel"

Growing up Catholic I was always surrounded by religious iconography. I always say my first real art inspiration was the stain glass windows and statues at church.  

This angel comes from the old cemetery behind St. Ann in Kaufman, Tx. Old cemeteries are always filled with fascinating sculptures and headstones. Growing up places like this were the closest I could come to the antiquities of Rome and the Greeks.

This is a small 5"x7" oil painting on canvas mounted on board. I painted this alla prima in about 1 1/2 hours spread out through the afternoon. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the brilliant blue sky against the pale green and blue tints of the stone statue. The brighter orange highlights come from patches of moss growing on the sculpture.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New daily oil painting "Pastoral"

Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas mounted on Board
8" x 10"

I've driven by this tree just off Hwy 124 near Fannett, TX countless times and every time I see it I think about painting it. I love the majestic way it stands alone in the expanse of open field.  I've also always been a big fan of the contrast of blue sky and orange-ish dried grass.

I started this 8" x 10" oil painting during lunch, and throughout the day I eeked out a few minutes here and there. Altogether I put in about two hours of brush time. I'm going to let it sit for the night and see if I want to add any final touches on the morning. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New daily oil painting of the sun setting

I've had this image in my head for a while and have been making a few small studies anticipating a larger painting. This is an 8" x 10" oil painting on canvas mounted on board. I started with a pretty loose pencil drawing then scrubbed in the blue sky. 

What keeps this image in my mind is the way the clouds seem to explode from the hotspot of the sun behind the trees. As I painted this it became an excuse to play with thicker paint and brushstrokes. I always feel such energy watching the world as it seems to die at sunset, yet at the same time I'm filled with peace. I've tried to let the paint handling convey a bit of the vibrant, charged atmosphere while the deep blue sky and soft greens of the foreground lend a bit of tranquility.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New daily painting "Heavy Clouds"

I spent about two hours Friday on this small 8" x 10" oil painting of the heavy rain clouds rolling in over the fields near my apartment. This morning I woke up early and spent about 30 minutes deepening the sky at the top and added a few brighter highlights on the rim of the clouds. A few small accents in the dark bottom edge of the sky and  I'm calling this one 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New pastel self-portrait finished

Self Portrait
Mark Nesmith
Pastel on Paper
8" x 10"
I spent some time this morning finishing my new pastel self-portrait. I was pretty happy with the start yesterday. After an initial pencil drawing I started adding a layer of color with conte hard pastels, then gave the whole drawing a light spray of fixative. Today I pulled out my Richeson and Rembrandt soft pastels and used a combination of scumbling and hatching to add depth to the color and unify areas. Overall I'm pretty satisfied and think I was able to capture a good likeness. Whether or not looking like me is a good thing isn't for me to say LOL!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New pastel self-portrait in progress

I realized today that I haven't really done a self-portrait since I started running a year and a half ago and lost weight. I had some time today after school before teaching my night class at the Art Center, so I started working on this small 8" x 10" pastel.

I started out with a pencil sketch before building up a base layer of color with conte.  I sprayed a light coat of fixative and am letting it sit for the night. Tomorrow I'll finish it with soft pastels.  

I'm pretty happy with it so far.  What do y'all think?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New daily painting "Watermelon" with step by step photos

Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas mounted on Board
8" x 10"
Here's my 8"x10" daily painting of my son eating watermelon.  He has a face full! I started this with a pretty detailed pencil drawing, then painted alla prima in two or three short sessions throughout the day.  Altogether I worked about 2 1/2 hours on this painting. 

I took several pictures while I painted.   Here's a step by step collage through the various stages of completion.  After I was satisfied with the pencil drawing, I mixed up 3 or 4 basic flesh tones and layed in the arms and face.  From there I established the background color and the darker shadows of the hat before painting the hat and the watermelon.  I then worked my way down through the folds of the shirt to the wooden picnic table.  I added a few blue tints as highlights on the table and the hand in shadow, and then finished by adding some brighter flesh highlights on the cheekbone, ear, and arms. 

"Watermelon" step by step
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas mounted on Board
8" x 10"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Watermelon (a fresh start)

It's been awhile since I've posted, but now that I'm in my new place I'm starting to get back in the swing of things. I Have a few large paintings I'm starting in the studio, and I pulled out my pochade box today to get back to my nearly daily paintings.

 Here's a small 8"x10" of my son Benton eating watermelon I drew last night. I'm going to try to find a little time at lunch to get started painting it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My first advertisement for my artwork in the May 2013 Issue of Visual Language Magazine

I've never had an advertisement for my artwork before so this is a first.  I'm on page 99 of the May 2013 Issue of Visual Language Magazine.  It's an online art magazine and the ad is a link to my website.  It'll be interesting to see if there's any significant bump in my traffic and contacts.  I'll keep you posted.

Here's the link to Visual Language if you'd like to check out the magazine for yourself:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sleep (painting the nude in soft pastels)

Soft pastels are one of my favorite mediums. The colors in pastels, particularly the earth tones, blues, and reds, are among the most vivid colors you can find in any medium. Pastels are very versatile and lend themselves to a wide range of techniques. You can blend them for a smooth and fine finish, layer and scumble them for texture with or without fixative, and even liquefy them into a kind of paint-like paste with water.

Edgar Degas was the early and undisputed master of the pastel medium, and his vivid ballet dancers and nudes are among my most lasting influences. Life drawing was a big part of my foundation in art school at Lamar University. Lately I've been inspired to get back to working from the human form.

This is a small 8" x 12" pastel painting of my favorite model. In what seems like life coming round in a perfect circle, Elizabeth was also one of my favorite models twenty years ago when I was in college. She has amazing, tight spiral curls of red hair and a statuesque, curvy figure. All that red is perfect for pastels!

For this painting I chose a textured, middle grey Strathmore paper to start. I was envisioning the scumbled, heavily textured surfaces of Degas' work.

I began with a charcoal drawing. A careful drawing isn't necessary, but for this drawing I decided I wanted to be fairly specific and certain of the anatomy and composition before I added color.  Sometimes in pastel I'll start by loosely blocking in colors, while other times I'll do a solid drawing in charcoal, sanguine, or even pencil first.  Pastel is very forgiving especially in the initial stages and allows for experimentation and changes in approach.

After I was satisfied with the drawing, I used Nupastels to lay in the initial color. Nupastels are firm, hard pastels that work well for under layers because they don't clog the tooth of the paper and go on relatively clean.

Often I'll work a second layer of softer Yarka or Rembrandt pastels right on top of the Nupastels, but after letting this one sit for a day I decided I wanted to have less of the broken, grey texture of the paper showing through and more subtle transitions of color.  I used a stomp, some tissue paper, and even my fingers to blend and smudge the pastel and unify the surface a bit.

A light spray of Krylon workable fixative darkened the colors and gave the surface back a little fine tooth for the top layer of soft pastel. I don't ever use fixative for final layers of pastel because it does alter the colors, but I discovered early on that fixative can extend the range of colors you have to work with, effectively doubling every stick. A color sprayed with fixative will darken in value. The exact same pastel stick scumbled on top will be lighter, more vivid, and lend a unique sheen and depth to the hue.

To finish this painting I turned to the softer Rembrandt pastels and used a variety of techniques to layer color on color.  Some areas have a somewhat linear hatching technique with clear strokes, while others use the flat side of the pastel to lay in strong, solid patches or lightly scumble across the top.  A wide range of tones in the flesh ranging from subtle peaches through vivid reds and pinks to violets and very light blue highlights lends a shimmering quality to the skin.  I also lightened the background and played up some blues and greens to really set off the red of her hair and the body pillow she's hugging.

Mark Nesmith
Pastel on paper
8" x 12"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Help Deliver Christmas - an auction and golf tournament fundraiser

In a week that's been full of bombs and explosions and general unhappiness in our country, it's good to remember that there are still ordinary, everyday people doing incredible and wonderful things for others. 

Twenty years ago some friends from a local bar in Beaumont, Texas got together and decided they should do something nice for Christmas.  They put a little money together and gave some less fortunate folks a decent holiday.  They had no agenda or ideology other than doing something nice for someone in need.  I doubt they put much thought into a lasting legacy or anything, but twenty years later the tight knit group of regulars and employees at The Pacesetter Lounge are still continuing the tradition.

Each year they raise money in a variety of ways, everything from a golf tournament and charity auction to a bikini car wash.  What started twenty years ago with the money a few people at the bar had in their pockets has grown to about $40,000 a year in donations.  The money is used to provide Christmas for around forty families and to help support other local charities like the food bank and Boys Haven.  For Christmas each child gets a few very nice items from their own wishlist along with some clothes and shoes.  They even have Santa Claus deliver the presents to the families at their home!

I found out about this event this past Christmas when my friend who manages the bar invited me to their present wrapping party.  A few dozen of us sat around the bar wrapping each present and loading up the truck that would serve as Santa's sleigh.  It's a very inspiring thing to be part of, and this year I'm adding my talents, such that they are, to their auction to try to help raise money.

I'm donating the paintings below along with a coupon for a free portrait.  The golf tournament and live auction takes place this weekend at the Idylwild Golf Club in Sour Lake, Tx.  The auction takes place after the tournament and has lots of unique items including artwork from several area artists, vouchers for a performance from a popular local band, and plenty of sports paraphernalia and  even some golf clubs.  If you'd like to find out more about the golf tournament and auction or even just like to donate to this wonderful cause contact Shirley Reece at 409-835-3768. 

Sunrise, Lake Mineral Wells
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
24" x 30"

Winter Thaw
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
18" x 24"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Charcoal and Pastel Drawing of Water Lillies - Pink Ladies

Pink Ladies
Mark Nesmith
Charcoal and Pastel on paper
18" x 24"

Here's my second version of water lillies done in charcoal with a little pastel. This time I've added pink to the flowers and a bit of green to some of the pads and the water. I'm really enjoying the not quite monochromatic look of these, somewhere between a drawing and a painting. I think I want to keep at this for awhile and see where it goes.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Charcoal and Pastel Drawing - Tinted Lillies

Tinted Lillies
Mark Nesmith
Charcoal on Paper
18" x 24"
Drawing has always been my fallback.  I spent my childhood filling pages of my schoolwork with pencil drawings, but I didn't discover charcoal until my first art class in college at Lamar University with Larry Leach.  I quickly fell in love!  Charcoal, and later pastels, became the bridge to painting for me.  It would still be a year later before I took up oil painting, but charcoal allowed for a painterly approach I hadn't known before.

One of my favorite things about charcoal is how you can push it around on paper.  A swipe with the palm of your hand or a tissue creates smudges, blurs edges, and can add atmosphere and subtletyb to a drawing.  Using an eraser to draw and carve back into the smudges of dark dust to pulls out highlights and allows you to add and subtract. All of this feels very much like the way oil paint responds, the scraping out and repainting and gradual build up of layers,  but without the brush (although I have used a brush with powdered charcoal too!)

This drawing of water lillies started out as a straight charcoal, then progressed through stages of smudging and erasing until much of the original drawing was little more than a ghost.  I then went back at the darker areas and defined some edges with charcoal before heightening the lights with white chalk.  Finally I added a bit of yellow and green pastel on the blooms and the pads.  I think the final result has a lot of the subtle shifts of edges I strive for in my paintings, and the alternating layers created by adding charcoal, blending and smudging areas, and subtracting and carving out lights with an eraser lends a kind of velvety patina to the surface.  I'm kinda digging it and have already started another similar piece.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keep Running Boston

Keep Running Boston
Mark Nesmith
Pencil on Paper
8" x 10"

Like most people I was shocked and saddened when I first heard the news about the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  It's horrible to realize that there are people among us capable of such senseless atrocities.  With the media storm and investigation into the bombings in full swing everyone seems to want to know whether this was indeed an act of terrorism or just a random lunatic.  While I understand that the answer to that question could have repercussions in the national security arena, in the practical scheme of things it really makes no difference.  There is no explanation that can make sense of this tragedy.  For those killed or injured in the explosions and for their friends and families, nothing will make their loss easier to bear or understand.  My heart and my prayers go out to them all.

I've never run a marathon but it has crossed my mind a time or two.  I understand and respect the drive and focus required to take on such an undertaking.  Not quite two years ago I took up running.  I was overweight, had high blood pressure, and was very unhappy at work.  I had made some gradual changes in my life to improve my health and had managed to lose twenty pounds or so by adjusting my diet, but it wasn't enough.  One day I came to the realization that to really make a difference I needed to do something more drastic.  On Christmas Day of 2011 I started the Couch to 5K (C2K) program and never looked back.  In two months I was running three miles every other day. 

A few months later my life took an unforeseen turn for the worse.  When my marriage first started to fall apart I was a wreck.  My wife seemed to wake up one morning and decide she no longer wanted to be a part of my life.  She started disappearing and stopped spending time with me or our kids.  I tried my best to take up the slack and to keep things as normal as possible for my children, but I wasn't sleeping much and it all weighed heavily on me.  I got us into counseling but she quit after just a few weeks.  She stopped sleeping at home and left all care of our kids to me.  I wasn't sure how I would survive, but I knew I had no choice.  I had to be there for my kids.

My brother and sisters were amazing, but they were hours away, so on a daily basis I was very much alone with my children.  Ultimately I found two outlets: God and running.  Running had always been a chore to me, but somehow during those months I began to crave my time on the road.  It was like meditation.  My jumbled mind was free while I pounded out the miles and I would make it back home rejuvenated.  I often ran in the early morning or late at night while my kids were asleep.  Though there was no saving my marriage, in many ways running helped save me.  Now I'm 100 pounds lighter and feeling better than I have since I was a teenager.  Even more important than my health and new found sexy body (HA!), I found myself again and gained some much needed peace of mind.

When my kids were small one of their favorite movies was Finding NemoNemo's mom died tragically, and Nemo's dad Marlin never quite got over it.  He lived in fear and tried to keep Nemo sheltered away from the world.  Then one day Nemo was taken by a scuba diver.  Marlin is faced with two choices: give up his son forever or face his fears and get him back.  Against all odds this little clown fish navigates the ocean, surviving sharks and turtles and whales to make his way to Sydney where Nemo is living in a dentist's aquarium.  Along the way he makes a friend, the forgetful but hopelessly optimistic Dori whose mantra is "just keep swimming."   When Nemo hears that his dad is coming to rescue him, he makes his way out of the aquarium and reunites with his father.  However, the happy ending is quickly in peril when Dori is swept up in a fishing net along with hundreds of other fish.  Escape seems impossible, but little Nemo swims into the net and helps get all the fish swimming down together.  Divided and acting on their own the fish were easy prey, but united and working together with a common goal they were strong and manage to break the net and gain their freedom.

We the people of these United States are much like the fish in the net.  Sometimes our own personal agendas and desires keep us apart and weaken and divide our country.  But when we unite, as we did in the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombings on 9-11, or when faced with the evil of men like Hitler, we are the strongest nation the world has ever known.  The bombings in Boston were horrible and an act of cowardice.  The truth is that no matter what we do as a nation to protect ourselves, there will always be a few people who seek to cause harm to others and spread fear.  There are always going to be a few fanatics and lunatics among us, but I believe that the good in this world far outweighs the bad.  When faced with tragedies and atrocities like the bombings at the Boston Marathon, we all have two choices.  Like Nemo's father Marlin, we can choose to bury our heads in the sand and succumb to fear, or we can choose to just keep swimming, or in this case, keep running.  We must do what we can to prevent such atrocities from occurring, but more than that, we must keep living our lives, working together for a common good, move forward, and share what love and joy we find whenever we can.  Love hard while there's love to be had.  That's what being human is all about.

Keep running Boston, and I'll lace up my Nike's and run right along with you.  I hope the rest of you will join us.

Friday, April 12, 2013

New Charcoal Drawing Swamp Thing (Big Thicket Cypress)

Swamp Thing
Mark Nesmith
Charcoal on Paper
22" x 30"

 I've always loved the woods.  I spent most of my childhood days roaming the woods behind my home and building forts.  I vividly remember countless field trips to the Big Thicket during summer camp, and the many YMCA Indian Guide camping trips with my father in the piney woods of East Texas.  As an art student at Lamar University I used to take day trips to hike the Big Thicket trails and fill up my sketchbooks with studies of trees and swamps.  My favorite has always been the cypress sloughs.  There's something that feels so ancient, almost primordial, about the cypress trees emerging from the shallow water.   It's almost like you've suddenly stepped back in time and are getting a glimpse of the world before humankind and the progress of civilization began to tame the wild. 

I've made a few attempts at oil paintings of the Big Thicket over the years and never really been satisfied with them.  To me the flickering light filtered through the canopy of trees and the rough texture of the tree trunks lends itself beautifully to charcoal.  Here I've used vine charcoal, compressed charcoal, and even a little Conte crayon and made liberal use of magic rub and kneaded erasers.  In the background I've all but erased the trees carving away at their mass with erasers to simulate the way bright daylight seems pierce the darkness of the forest and dissolve the leaves and branches overhead.    

If you've never hiked the trails through the Big Thicket you need to put it on your to do list.  It's a short drive from Beaumont north on Hwy 69 just past Kountze to the visitor on FM 420.  It's one of the most bio diverse areas in Texas and makes a great little picnic day.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DIY rolling artist palette and work table with shelves

Like many artists these days I find myself trying to make the most of my small studio space.  While I lived in North Texas I was kind of spoiled.  I had a 400 square foot studio next door to my home complete with a kitchenette and a bathroom.  I had plenty of counter and floor space to utilize for my paints and pastels. After moving back to Southeast Texas I find myself living and working in a small efficiency sized apartment.  At the same time I'm trying to get back to making larger paintings again so I really needed to have space for a good sized palette and paints, brushes, solvents, and mediums.  

I started looking around at artists taborets and rolling work tables and found them too expensive to be practical.  It seems if something is labelled as art studio furniture or art materials it automatically comes with a pretty hefty markup and price tag.  Even basic rolling shelves and carts from the big discount art stores online were in the neighborhood of $200 with several above $400.  I considered buying lumber and building some shelves from scratch, but then it occurred to me to look around at the office supply stores and in the home furnishings departments of stores like Walmart and Target.  I considered everything from rolling computer desks to kitchen carts and tool boxes.  I checked Lowe's and Home Depot and even Harbor Freight and found there are numerous items marketed for home use or DIY workshops ready made that would function well in an art studio.

I almost purchased a rolling computer desk from Office Depot but then decided it was a little short for my uses.  I'm a tall guy and generally paint standing up so I wanted something that stood around waist high.  My only other requirements were that I could put a glass palette on top and have some shelves for paint, brushes, and solvents, and that the shelves are pretty durable. 

I finally decided on these metal shelves from Target.  The brand is Room Essentials and they come in different widths and numbers of shelves and are also available in black.  I purchased the wide three self system in chrome.  I also added the industrial 4 inch casters.  The shelves require no tools to assemble and the casters screw directly in to the bottom of the legs. Each shelf is rated to hold more than 300 pounds. I also bought a roll of shelf lining for the bottom two shelves.  The shelves are modular so I can add additional units later if I want.  Target has all of this together in one location in the store so it was a one stop shopping kind of thing.  The total cost for the shelves and liner was right at $60. 

For the top shelf I cut a piece of 1/2" plywood to fit to lay a sheet of glass on for my palette. The whole system is very sturdy and rolls easily (the wheels do lock in place if I want).  I have ample space for mixing my paint and storage of brushes, large tubes of oil paint, and solvents and medium.  I even found a plastic sheet cover that slides right over the whole cart when I'm not using it.  I'm planning to paint the plywood a medium gray and want to get a bigger sheet of glass for the palette.  I figure I'll also add some offset clips or mirror clips to hold the glass in place on the plywood. 

This was incredibly easy to put together and a quick DIY project for just about anyone.  The shelves, casters, and lining were all done in about an hour.  The only part I needed tools for was cutting the plywood, although if you don't have access to a circular saw or table saw you could buy plywood at one of the home improvement stores or a lumber yard and have them cut it to size for you.  All in all I think it's the best palette system I've ever had, and the bang for the buck can't be beat.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New charcoal and pastel drawing Angry Bird

Angry Bird
Mark Nesmith
Charcoal and Pastel on Paper
22" x 30"

My daily commute along IH 10 from Winnie to Baytown where I teach takes me past the Old and Lost Rivers and the marshes and wetlands that make up the area.  I often stop for a quick photo as the first rays of sun at dawn cast their warm glow along the water and the reeds and grasses near the bridges.  This morning as I passed I caught sight of a heron, not necessarily an unusual sight in Southeast Texas.  White herons seem to be nearly as plentiful as people where I live, but this blue heron captured my attention with its striking contrast of red and blue and it's Karate Kid like pose.  I snapped a couple of quick photos with my phone and drew a quick pen sketch and continued on to work.

  I recently grabbed a few sheets of Canson printmaking paper on a clearance sale at Michael's,  so at lunch I grabbed a sheet out of the trunk of my car and started this drawing.  Most of the drawing was completed with a bit of Conte crayon and a Ritmo charcoal pencil.  After getting the bird in place I smudged it around and used a kneaded eraser to pull out some of the lighter edges of the feathers.  I used a few soft pastels to add just a hint of color. 

When I first saw this bird he looked to me like he was about to kick the daylight out of someone or something.  I tried to play up the angry bird aspect in his eye and in my rougher handling of the charcoal. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Charcoal drawing for new painting

Although in recent years much of my work has been focused on the landscape, I've always been fascinated by the human form. Portraits and nudes were my earliest inspirations and much of my study in art school at Lamar University revolved around life drawing classes.

Although I've continued to draw and paint portraits over the years, I haven't done any nudes in quite awhile. Recently I've been feeling the pull towards figurative work again and even started making it to the life drawing sessions at The Art Studio in Beaumont to get back into practice.

This is the charcoal drawing for a painting I'm starting of my friend and favorite model. She has amazing spiral curls of red hair and a beautiful, statuesque figure. She used to model at the studio back when I was in college and I must have done dozens if not hundreds of drawings of her back then. Seems fitting that she's the inspiration for my return to the figure. I'm planning to play up some deep red and purple hues throughout this painting to accentuate her hair.

Originally I left out the dresser in the background but really wanted to include the framed nude drawing she has so I added it later. I didn't really care for it at first so I gessoed it out, but then decided the composition needed it so I drew it back in again, although I moved it a bit to the left this time. I also moved the drawing from the left to the right side of the dresser which seems to give a nice counter balance to the weight of the dark headboard and pillows on the bed.

I'm pretty pleased with the drawing as a whole now and have toned the canvas so its ready to start painting when I get back from my weekend trip.

This canvas is 24" x 48" and will be the largest oil painting of a figure I've done in at least a decade. With me luck!

Friday, April 5, 2013

New portrait drawing Queen of Hearts

This started innocenly enough as a pretty straight forward portrait, but as began working on her incredible hair I realized some of the shadow areas I was drawing resembled hearts so I just went with it LOL! I think I'll call this one "Queen of Hearts." It's sepia chalk with a few touches of charcoal and white conte on 18" x 24" paper.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bolivar Flats

Here's a new 12" x 16" oil painting on canvas from my recent trips to Bolivar Flats near Galveston. This was painted in two short sessions over the past two days in between working on some larger paintings. Lots on people put down Texas beaches, and it's true that there's often too much liter and waste lining the beach, but I've always found the wild, overgrown patches of the less touristy beaches like Bolivar Flats to be sublimely beautiful. I really love the rhythm of the tall sea oats against the flickering bright light reflecting off the sand.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New oil painting "Approaching"

Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
30" x 40"

Finished at last! I've been posting progress on this painting for a couple of weeks.  Like a lot of paintings, I was really excited and happy with the beginning stages, then I hit an impass where I nearly decided to scrap the whole thing and paint over it, abut I finally found my groove again a few days ago and managed to finish strong.  After managing to capture the yellow and pink glow of the lighter clouds in the background and adding some brighter foliage to the tree line, the storm clouds up front just didn't seem foreboding enough.  I also didn't like the transition from the dark masses to the lighter surrounding areas, and overall I wanted more texture and energy.  I repainted the light rain at the bottom right, then went after the rain clouds.  Adding a bit of deep purple and grayish hues and letting myself play with the thicker impasto paint, painting, scraping away, and repainting the areas, seemed to give it the vitality I was hoping for.  Overall I'm pretty pleased with the painting.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about it too! Now it's time to tackle some of the canvases I have drawn and toned from Bolivar Flats Beach.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

More progress on a new painting -- Heavy Cloud (now with a light shower)

I managed to get quite a bit of painting done yesterday including a few hours on this painting whose finish has seemed to elude me. I repainted the sky areas around the clouds and layered some more color in the clouds at the top right. I added some variety and color to the dark mass of trees at the bottom, and I've managed to indicate the light shower of rain starting at the bottom right half. I'm pretty happy with most of the painting now. I think darkening the sky beneath the clouds and added the lighter parts of the trees really helped being the painting together. I want to do a bit more with the darker clouds. The transition from the clouds to the sky isn't quite right and I want a bit different feel in the brushwork. Then a few highlights with the clouds and maybe ill finally be done with this one.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Heavy Cloud, No Rain (finally getting back to work on this one)

Been awhile since I've painted on this one. As so often happens life intervenes. Spring Break and a hectic work week led to a much bigger break between painting sessions than I like. Then I had some doubts about getting back to it, but last night I bit the bullet and went back to work on this large painting. I only managed a couple of hours but made good progress on the lighter clouds in the top left and now feel inspired to finish again. I've almost got the whole canvas covered and should finish the initial lay in tonight. Of course, that's just the beginning. Then the real painting fun starts....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Daily Oil Painting Sunset at Bolivar Flats

Sunset, Bolivar Flats
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Oil Primed Linen Panel
5" x 7"
Click here to purchase this painting.

Anyone who knows me at all knows I'm a sucker for a good sunset, and sunsets at the beach are always spectacular.  Even without much cloud cover the sky blazes with orange, green, pink, and yellow hues in a seemingly endless range of tints. 

This is a view along Bolivar Flats looking towards Galveston Island.  You can barely see the silohuete of the high rise hotels on the island.  One of my favorite things about these small, quick daily paintings is the freedom to explore and experiment. Here I played up the bright, pastel hues in the sky and the overall golden high key color scheme.

I rather enjoy the quickness of the brushwork in this painting.  This particular evening at the beach was quite windy and the water was pretty choppy.  I tried to mimic the action of the wind and waves with my brush.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dealing with Depth in a New Daily Oil Painting of the beach at Bolivar Flats, TX

Boliver Flats #2
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Oil Primed Linen Panel
5" x 7"

Click here to buy this painting.

Here's another new 5"x7" daily painting if the beach at Bolivar Flats, Tx. Instead of the long diagonal view along the shoreline I had in yesterday's painting, today I'm facing the horizon head on. Converging diagonals automatically convey a string sense of depth. The space in a view like this is much more subtle and can be tricky to handle. I exaggerated the color shifts and contrast in the short expanse of beach, and tried to use softer edges in the distance, leaving the livelier juicy brushwork for the salt grass and seaweed up front. Strong texture and crisp edges tends to project forward in space while the smoother transitions recede. This same effect can be seen in the sky. The light blue towards the distant horizon was kept soft, while the closer clouds were painted with strong brushstrokes. This is an oil painting on oil primed linen panel. I'm very excited and super inspired about this new series of Gulf Coast paintings. I hope you enjoy them too!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gulf Coast Beach Vacation and New Daily Oil Painting "Bolivar Flats"

Bolivar Flats Beach
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Oil Primed Linen Panel
5" x 7"

Click here to purchase this painting.

I've always loved going to the beach. Growing up in Beaumont, TX the Gulf Coast was just an hour or so drive. I come from a large family and my father was a school teacher so money was pretty tight. Nearby Crystal Beach and Galveston Island made for reasonably inexpensive family vacations. Throughout high school and college trips to the beach were frequent, and when I got married we honeymooned in a borrowed beach house from my boss. I used to do lots of paintings and pastels of Galveston Beach and Sea Rim State Park, but after moving to Dallas in 1998 going to the beach became a rare and expensive trip. When I moved back to Southeast Texas this past summer I immediately had the beach on my mind. This past week was Spring Break and I had my kids for the week so we made a trip to Galveston and stopped by Bolivar Flats beach on the way home. Bolivar Flats is just this side of the ferry landing at the tip of the peninsula. It's a lovely stretch of beach with some good variety of plants and an interesting coastline, and the sand dunes that are a regular occurrence at low tides make it a favorite feeding ground for a large variety of shorebirds. I enjoyed sunset there so much that my kids and I made a return afternoon visit later in the week. I'm already thinking of a large series of paintings of the area. This 5" x 7" oil painting on an oil primed linen panel is my first study of Bolivar Flats. This is the view along the shore looking back towards Crystal Beach. I loved the reddish greens of the seaweed along the shore and the bright sunlit expanse of beach in the far distance. I'm planning to do several small studies to get my feet wet again while I start planning some larger works.  In the meantime I'm looking forward to the warmer weather and many more trips to the Gulf Coast.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hot Day at the Lake Daily Paintworks Auction (and a quick nod to visual rhythm)

Hot Day at the Lake
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
8" x 10"

Click HERE to bid on this painting.

Another of the small paintings I did of Lake Mineral Wells, TX.  I think this was the second in the series I painted and has always been one of my favorites.  The musician in me loves rhythm, so I've always found myself drawn to the verticals of tall grasses and trees.  Here the colorful flowering reeds along the shore make a quick and lively staccato rhythm against the calmer waters and simplified masses in the distance.  I enjoyed pushing the color harmony, particularly the soft yellow against blue in the background and the pop of the red against green in the foreground.  I really wanted to capture the intense warmth of the bright light on a summer morning in Texas.  I'd love to find this painting a good home.