Outdoor Still Life Featured in Plein Air Magazine

The Old Man & The Seashells 11 x 14″ Oil on Canvas
Cover of PleinAir Magazine

As many of you may know, I love to paint outdoor still life paintings in the tradition of Henry Hensche. So, I was pleased to learn that one of my paintings was going to be featured in a national art magazine discussing the subject.

I learned on Facebook that the publisher was going to be doing a special section in the September 2014 issue on outdoor still life paintings, so I contacted them and emailed the editor several samples of paintings in this genre.

They chose to feature The Old Man & The Seashells in a special section entitled How to Paint Objects Under Outdoor Light. Several other artists I admire were also featured.

About PleinAir Magazine

Today tens of thousands of artists and collectors have joined a new plein air movement, which you can follow in the new PleinAir Magazine. Rooted in deep history, each issue, edited by M. Stephen Doherty, chronicles today’s master artists, their techniques, and the collectors who follow them, as well as the historic artists who came before them.


As Scene In…


June 2014 issue of South Shore Living magazine.

JT HardingThe_Good_Book_24x18

The Good Book, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 18

More good news and media attention comes this month from South Shore Living magazine. A nice little write-up featuring my oil painting, The Good Book, can be seen in the Last Scene Here section of the June issue (on newsstands now).

South Shore Living magazine is reflection of the lifestyle, interests and activities of the Boston area’s South Shore. South Shore Living and ssliving.com bring to life the people, architecture, events and activities, style, dining and entertainment and much more. The Last Scene Here section highlights local artists with ties to the South Shore area.

You can acquire this beautiful oil painting for your collection.  To learn more about pricing and payment plans, email me today.

One in 1,000

JT Harding1000DogPortraitsCover

Cover of 1000 Dog Portraits

JT Harding 1000DogPortraitsInside

(Right page): Painting of Vern the Great, Oil, 16 x 16″

I recently received some great news that my pet portrait of Vern the Great was published in a new book called 1000 Dog Portraits. The book is a compilation of quirky, fun, fanatical illustrations, paintings, collages, and drawings from designers and artists around the globe.

Will your pet portrait be the next one to be published? Take a look at my new commission page to learn more about my process and commission your very own painting today!

Opposites Attract!


vive la différence, 8 x 8″ oil on canvas (Copyright 2014 JT Harding Studios)

January 25th is officially known as Opposite Day.  In honor of this holiday, I am auctioning this colorful still life of an apple and satsuma orange.  Ironically, the painting is a visual depiction of the title vive la différence – A French saying which means long live the differences (between the sexes).  To add to its uniqueness, I painted it as a diamond shape (which is really just a tilted square).

This is the first of many Small Works Silent Auctions I will hold throughout the year.  Most of the works auctioned will be small works, color studies, and Plein Air pieces.  These little gems are usually painted Alla Prima (in one session) and have a lively quality of spontaneity.

How it works.
No one sees anyone’s bid. Simply bid what you think the painting is worth to you. No reserve or minimum bids. The highest bidder wins.

To bid – simply click here!
– You are bidding on the painting UNFRAMED.
– Winning bid does not include sales tax or shipping costs.
– Bids are ‘silent’ or ‘sealed’, so no one sees your bid.
– There is no minimum bid and no reserve price.
– Simply bid what the painting is worth to you.
– Highest bid wins the auction.
Auction ends Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at Midnight EST.
– I will contact the winning bidder the next day.

Hurry and  bid here before the auction closes.

Making a Smooth Transition from Studio to Outdoor Painting

JT Harding
The Good Book
Oil on Panel, 10 x 8″

If you’re like me, you’ve been cooped up all winter painting inside your home or studio.  Now that summer has arrived, it’s prime weather for Plein Air painting but you still may be wondering how to make a smooth transition from the comfort of the studio to painting on site.  For even the most experienced painters, the inherent challenges of Plein Air painting makes the idea a bit daunting.  Another great blog post here will help you with making preparations.  But, for now, forget those thoughts because I’d like to make some recommendations which will help you ease into and even enjoy the experience.


Most mornings, I start my day with a 15-minute video program called a.m. yoga.  In it, the instructor describes that after a night of sleep, the body is rested but stiff from inactivity.  To awaken the body/mind, he takes me through a series of gentle poses designed to allow me to meet my day with openness, peace, and serenity.  A similar set of exercises can help you transition from studio to outdoor painting.

Warming up

Like my yoga program, you can ease into Plein Air painting with Plein Air drawing.  That’s right, I’m asking you to leave your French easel and paints at home and just bring a sketchpad, pencils, and erasure to a favorite outdoor spot.  Sit in a comfortable folding chair and quietly contemplate the scene but remain alert and observant.  Now, make some notes about the time of day, weather conditions, and colors.  Really try to notice what is happening with the light effects and color contrasts.  Is reflective light bouncing off the grass and coloring the shaded trunk of a tree?  What happens to the color of objects in the distance?  If you’d like to eventually paint the place, make a few compositional sketches and take some photographs.  Not to paint from, but to further understand the scene.  This exercise helps to hone your powers of observation and better understand the various light effects on outdoor objects.

Paint in your back yard

Henry Hensche Color Study
, oil on canvas, 24″ x 20″
 c. 1960’s
Collection of Emile Henault

With your sharpened powers of observations, take your easel and paints out into your back yard or a local park and set up a colorful but simple still life.  Here, I want you to think in terms of color studies, not finished paintings.  Keep your painting surface small and your brushes large.  Using burnt sienna, draw in the shapes with your brush, separating the light and shadow masses.  Observe the colors of the planes in the light and the planes in the shade.  Describe each mass with its’ associated color.  Relate each color note to another in the setup.  Make sure all color notes are different.  Keep the studies short (two to three hours at most) because the light direction will change quickly.  Paint the same scene in the morning and late evening light keys and compare the studies with one another.  You can learn more about the practice of color study from the Henry Hensche Foundation website and follow the Henry Hensche facebook group page for some great insights and inspiration.

Planning is the key

Now that you are ready to tackle outdoor landscape painting, planning is key.  Enlist a friend and make a date.  Keep your eye on the weather and try to pick a day that will afford you full sun and clear skies.  Deciding on a painting location has been made easier with new facebook and pinterest pages.  Here, you will find local locations in Massachusetts that have been pre-scouted and approved of by other Plein Air painters.

Arrive early and set up prior to the time of day you would like to paint.  To keep your frustration factor low, your subject should be simple just like your back yard color studies.  Bring along several panels and change them out if the weather changes dramatically.

Continue to think in terms of colors, color contrasts, and masses — not details.  Key all the colors and color values off of the color value of the sky.  To see what I mean, click on the video clip of Marc Dalessio below.

If you are still having difficulty, do more back yard color studies.  With continued practice, your landscape color studies will become full-fledged Plein Air paintings.  Plus, you can use the best little gems to work up larger studio pieces.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy the process!

PS: I encourage you to leave your comments or questions below.  Also, please consider joining other outdoor painters at Kim Morin Weineck’s Vermont workshop or at this year’s Adams Farm Plein Air Paint Out on September 7, 2013.  Click here to pre-register and download a prospectus.

Equine Portrait of Majestic Mystic

JT Harding

Mystic, a 23 year old thoroughbred and retired polo pony, was the subject of this recently completed commissioned painting.

I met the client and her horse at the family property which had a stunning new stable with green barn doors.  Mystic was just getting bathed and prepped for her photo shoot.  The stable made a great backdrop so I took numerous photos of the horse and stable.  I chose the best of the bunch and sent the client the selection.  We both loved the one of Mystic in front of the stable door.  The verticals, horizontals, and diagonals strengthened the composition.  Plus, seeing through the window, into the inside of the stable, added interest, depth, and mystery.

To increase the impact of the piece, by making her head nearly life sized, I chose a 2′ x 2′ square canvas.  The project took a little over  one month to complete and the finishing touch included adding her name to the bridle plate.

Result: The client loved it.  When I delivered the painting, I think she said “Wow…Beautiful.”  Which is music to my ears!

Farm Painting Hits Home with Collector

“JT, I really appreciate your work. The painting arrived in perfect condition yesterday. For me it is much more than a rendering – it is memories and feelings. I’m so happy that Ralph contacted me about you and that I requested you do this. The walls in my den are a light yellow and the painting and frame work well together.

Hoping you have a safe and healthy New Year. Many THANKS!”

– Client


I love my job, especially when I can do commissioned works like the one above. The painting was recently completed for a gentleman who lived and worked on Hill Crest Farm as a young boy. The farm is directly across the street from Adams Farm in Walpole, MA which I also have painted twice.

The painting has several personal touches that add meaning to the piece and were incorporated based on the information the client shared with me during our initial consultation. For instance, I chose a morning scene so I could show a light on in one of the rooms.  This is because he fondly remembers getting up early to attend to the herd of Hereford cattle. The two cattle in the field were also added to the painting in order to stage a historical scene. As the finishing touch, I added Hill Crest lettering above the barn doors.

He is no longer living at the farm, and there are no Hereford cattle in the field, but now he can look at the painting in his office and fondly remember living on North St., “back in the day.”

Is there a painting you have in mind, or a special spot you’d like remember?


Anatomy of a Commission

I wanted to provide some insight into my process for painting pet portraits (which is pretty much my process for all my paintings).  The willing subject is my cat BoBo.

1) From a photo I took of BoBo basking in the sun, I establish an open grisaille underpainting, which helps me form the foundation of light and shadow masses.

2) Now, I block in color to establish initial color relationships, value range, and the light key.

3) Here, I refine color relationships and add color variations inside the light and shade areas.

4) At this stage, I add subject-specific details and model the form to create a more 3-dimensional feel.

5)  Finally, I refine the focal point, adding eye and whisker details and then sign the completed painting.

Easy.  Right?  Well, the process of commissioning me is equally as easy.  First, I provide a complimentary consultation where we’ll meet to discuss your ideas and budgets.  Second, I’ll present a proposal detailing costs and schedules.  Prices are based on several variables including canvas size, and background details.  Most commissions require a 50% down payment with the balance due upon delivery, but I can also tailor terms to meet your needs.  Once the proposal is agreed upon, I get started by taking pictures of your pet, and we agree on the best of the best.  Then the painting process (above) begins.  Most of the time, I’ll email you work-in-progress photos, unless, of course, you want to be pleasantly surprised.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.  And if you are interested in a pet portrait of your very own pet, please contact me today!

Painting Donated to Adams Farm

I was recently featured in the local paper, The Walpole Times.  Last October I painted a plein air rendition of the Farm and Pavilion at Adams Farm in Walpole, MA.  While painting it, I was inspired by all of the people who made major donations to preserve this beautiful open space, including my friends at the Irving and Cooke families.  So, I decided that donating the painting would be a great way to give what I could.

October at Adams Farm

The Friends of Adams Farm committee members were so nice and appreciative.  It also turned out that they had been thinking, for some time, of inviting artists to a paint out event at the farm.  So, guess who volunteered to organize the event?  That’s right…me!  You can find details about the event this September at my Events page or visit the official blog and pre-register today!

Welcome to the new jtharding.com

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EAST WALPOLE – Thank you for visiting my new website.  You may have been to my old website or perhaps you are a new visitor.  Either way, I am happy to have you  here.

So, you’re probably asking, why did you change your website?  Well I ‘m glad you asked.  Just like my jean size in high school, I grew out my old website.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my old website by Fine Art Studios Online.  The ease of start-up and the ability to get my name and work seen was invaluable.  The templated formats enabled me to customize a complete solution including hosting, email, integrated blogging, and an enewsletter capability.  The support was also great and I’ll miss them.  If you are starting your art career or don’t want to design and program your own site, you should definitely consider using them.

So, this is where the growing out of part comes in.

You see, I eventually got to a point where I needed to better brand my business.  I wanted to build my own site but I still am not that technically savvy.  Nor do I particularly want to be.

Therefore, my research lead me to WordPress.

Although WordPress is well known as a blogging software, they also have website design capabilities and a number of partners who build really cool templates on the WordPress platform.  I chose ThemeTrust’s Craft Theme.  I liked their themes because they combine beauty and functionality.  Plus, I liked the nifty home page slide show, carousels, and portfolio capability.  Since blogging is built-in, I’ll be able better communicate my brand, tell stories about my art, dispense valuable information to artists and collectors, and create a better dialog with site visitors.  Like all businesses, cutting costs is important to me and this change will save me nearly $250 a year.  Hey folks, that is a couple canvases,brushes, and tubes of paint.

I feel like a proud papa with the birth of my new baby website and wish I had a cigar right now to celebrate.  I hope you look around and I’d love to hear your opinions on the site.  What do you like?  What can I improve?  Maybe you can tell me about your own website building challenges by leaving a comment below.

Thanks again for visiting and come back soon.