WEEKLY FEATURE (Work in Progress)

Marina at the RiverWalk in Detroit

(Week 5)

Riverwalk Marina 1 cr.jpg

A Preface…

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”

Emile Zola

Every week I will feature an update and discussion regarding my works in progress (WIP). It also serves as an incentive for me to work daily on an unfinished backlog of paintings and plein air pieces I started at earlier dates.

I want to share my art and my methods with anyone who is interested and may benefit from my experiences. So here is my art and how I do it! In return, I wouldn’t mind hearing from you!

Each week, as I work on the featured painting, I will update images and add comments. As I finish each painting, I will begin a new painting (WIP), and the former work will be removed from this section. However, if you wish a digital copy sent to you of any previous Weekly Feature, use my contact page and I will email a copy to you. A log of past Weekly Features is shown below. Thanks for visiting! Peace!

Previous Weekly Features

  • Jun 30 - Jul 14 - “Marina at False Creek and Granville Bridge”, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

  • Jul 14 - Jul 28 - “Western Diamondback Rattlesnake”, Arizona, U.S.A

  • July 28 - Aug 4 - “The Stella d’Oro Daylily and the Summer Lilac”

  • Aug 4 - Aug 25 - “Gaughtry”, pet portrait

  • Aug 25 - Sep 29 - “Scott Fountain at Belle Ilse”, Detroit, Michigan



Project Title: Marina at the RiverWalk in Detroit, 12”x 16” acrylic on canvas board

[Post: Oct 13, 2019]

Frequently growing up, my days fishing along the Detroit River made me think of the carefree antics of Tom Sawyer as I experienced many adventures along this riverfront. Not till these many years later have I seen such an uptick in development of this history-laden body of water. Today, you can walk along what is known as the Detroit RiverWalk, and see the signs of the successful efforts to beautify the Detroit shorelines alongside the towering mountains of the local skyscrapers and business towers.

Path on the Riverwalk 1sm.jpg

A view of our Canadian neighbors!

Here are the stages of my painting, “Marina at the Riverwalk in Detroit”, based on my own excursions along its path.

Riverwalk Marina Silver Maples live paint 2019 prog 1sm.jpg

(1) Based on my photographs while trekking along the RiverWalk, I started doing this 12”X16” acrylic as a live demonstration while exhibiting at an art market in Chelsea, Michigan at the Silver Maples community. I chatted an awful lot with my nearby exhibiting pottery specialist, but at least I got this far!

Riverwalk Marina 4sm.jpg

This is another view of the marina area on the RiverWalk in Detroit.

[Post: Oct 20, 2019]

Riverwalk Marina Silver Maples prog 2 sm.jpg

(2) With my grayscale plan in place, I have started near the top of this painting to introduce color. In keeping with the tonal values, each color should have the proper amount of “darkness” or “lightness” needed to fit convincingly into the scene.

[Post: Oct 27, 2019]

Riverwalk Marina Silver Maples prog 3.jpg
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(3) While balancing my time these days, I try to focus on small areas of my painting at a time. This time I worked the central area adding color and contrast to the long building and the several boats near by and in front of it (indicated by arrows).

Sharing some tips….

Two ways to use a Mahl Stick:

Mahl Stick.jpg

This is the mahl stick (above). It is easily made with a length of wood (dowel, trim, etc.) of a size that allows you to stretch over your painting while working. Attach a small rag stuffed with more rag and secure with a rubber band. The padded end enables a soft, traction-supporting surface that gently rests a safe distance along side the canvas.


(A) To keep your hand from touching and smearing wet paint


(B) Using the straightedge of a mahl stick to guide the painting of a straight line

[Post: Nov. 3, 2019]

Riverwalk Marina Silver Maples prog 4 sm.jpg

(4) I liked this scene, largely because of the water and marina, but also because of the Renaissance Center (upper right corner) in the background. That was the object of my regular weekly effort to paint on this piece of the RiverWalk in Detroit. I also added detail to a few of the buildings in the adjacent areas.


TIP: Shadows and color- Add a touch of the complimentary color to the color you are using to (1) neutralize the saturation and (2) give a tonal difference that appears to be “darker”. Ever heard of a dark yellow?? Try adding a touch of purple!

Mixing complimentary colors.jpg

NOTE: The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. The primary colors FOLLOWING are listed with their complementary color:


[Post: Nov. 10, 2019]

(5) My goal was to start to solidify some of the background in this area, namely the walkway, and adjacent rail, greenery and some of the boats. The upper image shows where I was working; the bottom image shows the results.

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Riverwalk Marina Silver Maples prog 5sm.jpg

TIP: Matching colors when painting! - This is one of those things than can drive some artists nuts! Here are a few observations I will offer as tips in the image below. Bear in mind that some styles of painting may only require that you come close to a color or in the same family of color in order to be successful in a stylized technique. Happy painting!!

Matching Colors.jpg

Come back next week for another post of painting the “Detroit RiverWalk” and another tip!

This view from the Detroit RiverWalk scene is the focus of this current series of weekly painting stages in the development of this acrylic.