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Life Keeps Us Busy

January 27, 2014

My apologies to anyone who’s been wondering if we fell off the face of the earth.  The days just seem to have a way of flying by too fast. . We spent October and November in the Austin, Texas area.  There was time spent with kids and grandkids in Austin and Houston, and a few days visiting in Port Aransas and Mustang Island with my brother and sister-in-law.  We also sold our ’98 Holiday Rambler motorhome and bought a 2003 Bounder motorhome.  In December, we relocated to Rockport, Texas and celebrated the holidays.  January, sadly, included an almost two week trip to Ohio for the funeral of Nell’s mother.  Life does have a way of keeping us busy, doesn’t it? . I have, of course, found some time to paint.  In addition to my normal use of gouache, I have also started experimenting with acrylics as a change of pace, and to open up new possibilities.   I have a number of paintings to show you.   If you’re like me, you mostly just like to look at the pictures, so I’m going to make this a blog post of mostly paintings.

Williford House, 11x14, Gouache

Williford House, 11×14, Gouache

You’ve probably seen the painting of the Williford House in Fairfield, Texas.  I first posted this painting in May, 2010 along with what I knew of the old house that used to sit on an overgrown lot behind a Dairy Queen.  Since then, I’ve heard from people who recognized the house as well as a number of descendants of the original owners.  The house is gone now, but the painting was recently purchased by one of those descendants, and she shared personal experiences and hopes to make it a part of the family foundation’s collection.  Parting with this painting has been like saying goodbye to an old friend, but it’s been heart warming to have made that connection. And here are a few from our travels:

The Pool, 16x20, Gouache

The Pool, 16×20, Gouache

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio is an amazing place for a landscape painter who enjoys painting intimate spaces filled with both mystery and light.  Once we were down in the canyons of this place, I felt as if I was in the middle of a painting by Asher Brown Durand or one of the other Hudson River School painters.  The painting above is an as-yet unfinished portrayal of a pool in one of the canyons.


Footbridge, 9×12, Gouache

,Footbridge is another attempt at portraying a spot in Hocking Hills State Park, keeping it loose and using larger brushes through the entire painting.

corpus christi 1

Corpus Christi Sunlight, 8×10, Gouache

The waterfront at Corpus Christi, Texas has a beautiful boardwalk with these wonderful structures.   On a sunny day, it has an almost Mediterranean look.


Evening Rest, 9×12, Acrylic

I’m currently exploring acrylics, simply for a change of pace to avoid getting stale after several years of working exclusively in gouache.  The working boats in the Rockport/Fulton and Aransas Pass area on the Texas Gulf Coast are providing  some challenging subjects.

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Waiting, 9×12, Acrylics

We’ve been exploring some of the backwater areas, and finding boatyards with a variety of vessels.

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Back To Back, 9×12,. Acrylics

And some really great shrimp boat scenes.


Pelican, 6×6, Acrylic

Pelicans are a popular subject in the shops and galleries in Rockport and Port Aransas.  This one didn’t get that far.  It was bought within an hour of being posted on Facebook.


Flea Market Finds, 8×10, Gouache

Getting back to gouache, this was done a couple of days ago, an attempt at keeping things loose and simple. This little still life was a nice change of pace.  I worked from a photo taken at a flea market in Kentucky.

8x10 gouache arans pass1

Parked, 8×10, Gouache

Trying to stay loose and avoid too much detail, I painted this one with gouache over an orange acrylic base coat.  The beauty of working this way is that the acrylic undercoat doesn’t lift when the gouache is being applied.

Ferry, 8x10, Gouache

Ferry, 8×10, Gouache

Continuing to keep it loose, this is a little sketch of one of the ferries that cross the channel between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas.  We’ve sat on these ferries and watched tugboats and huge tanker ships pass by on the way to the Port of Corpus Christi.

I’ve joined the Rockport Center for the Arts, and just delivered a painting to be on display and for sale in the Members Gallery there.  And we’re putting together a few pieces to hopefully place with the Port Aransas Art Center in the next few days. Did I mention it’s been a busy time?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Gordon Beck permalink
    January 28, 2014 12:34 pm

    Beautiful new work, Ralph…the Williford House is my favorite in the group (although a bit older).

  2. William R Moore permalink
    January 28, 2014 12:55 pm

    Apology accepted, I was wondering if y’all dropped off the face of the Earth. :0) Glad to see you haven’t and with the exception of the death of Nell’s mother you have been enjoying family and finding some time for painting.

    This group shows no rust and they are definitely well painted. Congratulation on both your new Art Center connections on the coast. In your painting “Parked,” I think the way you used the warm acrylic back ground color makes this composition. The warmth brings it to life. Well done.

    I do hope we don’t have to wait so long for you next post.

    • January 28, 2014 1:15 pm

      Thanks, William. Always good to hear from you, my friend. I had originally intended to just try the acrylics for backgrounds, but of course I had to carry a few to finish to see how I liked it. I’ll probably work back and forth for a while. As always, hanks for the encouragement.

  3. January 29, 2014 5:19 pm

    I love reading your blog and looking at your paintings! Your goals and lifestyle is fascinating to me, and is something I’ve been interested in for quite some time. It was so inspiring to find your blog, read your stories and look at your artwork. So awesome!

  4. Chris permalink
    February 1, 2014 2:43 am

    Your work is an inspiration to me. I love your painting style/presentation and am in awe that you are able to get such a soft, oil-like look with gouache.

    I’m also an artist. I took a break of several years and am just getting back into painting and drawing. In the past, I used many mediums (oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, pastel, pencil, pen & ink, etc). Most of my works were in acrylic, even though I felt like I was constantly fighting that medium. The last few years I painted, I worked almost exclusively in watercolor.

    Now that I’m getting back into it, I’m again using watercolor, but I want my “other” main medium to be gouache this time around. I see gouache as having some of the propertes that I always used to wish my acrylics had. I have, in fact, sold all my acrylics–kept the oils and sold the acrylics. I just don’t want to fight with those darn acrylics anymore.

    Once I saw your work here on your website, I knew I could get gouache to do what I wanted it to do if I practiced long and hard. And practicing I am! And your work here offers a bar that I can hope to get up to if I work at it. I’m amazed by what you do with gouache. You really should do some videos. There is such an absence of gouache instructional material out there. I know artists that have never even heard of it! Your website is an absolute treasure for a landscape painter who wants to concentrate on gouache.

    Please don’t switch to acrylic completely! You are such an expert with gouache, and there are so few out there. Since you are branching out a bit, I have to ask, have you ever worked with casein? It’s very similar to gouache, in my opinion. I’ve been playing with that a bit lately (Shiva brand). Fun medium.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your experiences with gouache and your wonderful artwork. You are an absolute inspiration for those of us who hope to get proficient with that medium. As I said, you should do videos or a book… I’m first in line!!!

  5. February 6, 2014 12:16 pm

    Nice group of paintings Ralph. It seems your experiment with acrylics has gone well. I too like the stay loose approach.

  6. hannastocksick permalink
    June 7, 2016 10:53 pm

    Ralph, what do you think is easier for a beginner: watercolor or acrylic? thx

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