Whenever I'm walking through the outdoors I make sure and take everything in that is around me. I use that time to pray and thank God for all the beauty I see in nature. What I see in the natural world affirms my belief in God!
I approach every painting as if I walked through the woods and came upon whatever animal I'm painting. I take the time to observe how every little detail looks and how the light hitting an object at different angles makes it look. I notice color where a lot of people don't see it. You have to be fairly observant about things to be an artist and put a good representation of the subject on the canvas.
In this painting above "Aspen Hideaway" there are little things that I add into a painting that you might not notice, but if I left it out, you wouldn't think the painting would be that great. I put a subtle hint of yellow and orange light on the back and the right side of each of the deer to suggest that light coming down through those aspen trees. I added just a little dark color in the water with a back and forth stroke beneath the deer and and each rock that touches the water to make you think the object is reflecting on the water underneath the rapids.
In this painting above "Fence line Hunter" I have to get across to the viewer that this is an old, weathered, wooden fence. To do that I had to bring out details in the wood such as the wood grain and knots in the boards. Another detail is the barbed wire. I've seen a lot of paintings where the artist just paints one or two dark lines and call it a wire fence. I made sure to paint the two wires twisted together with with each individual barb in the wire. I also made sure to paint the wire wrapped around the post and I like to put a few kinks in the wire because that's what an old fence looks like when you step on the wire a few times to get through it or climb over it. If I'm some where showing my work and an old farmer walks by and sees my painting, I want him looking at it and remembering the old fence that goes around his pasture ground that keeps his cows in. I want him to remember the sweat that rolled off his fore head while he put that 6" x 6" welded wire over the spot in the fence on the left to make a quick repair where his cows were getting out of the fence.
It's details like this that start to set you apart from the crowd as an artist. Just remember to enjoy the journey and learn everything you can along the way and by all means take a walk
in the woods!