Daily Paintings, Drawings and Photographs by John Farnsworth



New Gallery Representation

I am both pleased and proud to announce that I have signed on with Sorrel Sky Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado.

I will be in good company there, showing alongside my friends, Billy Schenck, Peggy Immel, Barbara Bowles, Stephen Day, Tom Palmore, Star Liana York, Kevin Red Star and others.

I look forward to working with the fine, friendly and knowledgeable staff at Sorrel Sky.

When in Santa Fe or Durango, be sure to drop by and say hello.



iPhone 6Plus / PhotoForge2 /Snapseed



Of course! I am an Artist. A painter.

Watercolor, now that’s my first love.

And oils? They have recently, after forty plus years, become a joy in themselves; more than a means to an end. I’ve started to actually enjoy pushing the paint around. At the same time, I want to give more thought to what I’m painting. What direction, if any, I’m trying to take with my work.

Pastels and oil pastels? Love ’em. Haven’t done much in a while. Would like to get back into them.

Drawing and sketching, both preliminary and for their own sake. Sketching on the iPhone has become almost compulsive lately, and recent line and watercolor work has been very rewarding. See video demos here and here.

As a subset of all this, I have too many subject matter interests. That’s fine for the little dailies, but for larger works, I need more focus. But on what?

Too many interests!


I’ve been interested in photography for as long as I’ve been interested in painting. Until digital photography came along, however, I was more an observer than a practitioner. I occasionally took photos meant to be seen as photographs, but, for the most part, I used the camera as a research tool for my paintings. Some of the time it was used to record my work, or for the usual family snapshot.

When digital came along, my life changed. I had never had an affinity for the dark, smelly confines and chemicals of a darkroom. I had been in love with computers for years. At last, I could not only take pictures, I could make photographs!


As I see it, there are two ways to make a photograph. The first is to take it. To do it all through the viewfinder. To first see the image, then to compose it, time it, capture it in a single time stopping click of the shutter. Done. OK, maybe with a minimum of adjustment, but not manipulation, in either darkroom or computer. It’s all about capturing the subject, the moment, the feeling, the story. This is to seriously take a photograph, as opposed to a snapshot, a relatively careless, random recording of a place or an event.


The second way is to take whatever has been captured, maybe deliberately, maybe carelessly, and make something more of it. To push it. Recompose, redesign, tease, enhance, yes, to manipulate it. Exaggerate, alter, or completely change its original meaning, story, emphasis. To add to it, or to take away from it. To create.

I find both ways fascinating. I am interested in both. And in following both paths. Combining them, too.


With an iPhone virtually always on my person, I am really hooked! And guess what? It does video! Who has ever seen a movie and not longed to do film? Pictures that move! High quality video with a device that fits in my shirt pocket?! Are you kidding?

Allow me to share a little perspective here. I grew up at a time when Dick Tracy’s wrist radio was a pipe dream. Something from an unattainable, unreal, damn near unimaginable future. And now?…


Oh, I have a phone in my pocket. That’s pretty neat. But I’m a visual kinda guy. I have a camera / video camera in my pocket!!! And I can talk on it. Not a telephone that takes pictures. To me, it’s not really an iPhone, it’s an iCamera.

I have an iPad, as well. It’s my darkroom. Oh, sure, I can edit images on my iPhone, I mean iCamera, but most editing gets done on the iPad. Maybe I should say my iDarkroom? OK, this could get ridiculous in a hurry. The iPad is also my pen, my pencil, my typewriter. I’m typing this, right now, on my iPad. This little machine in a piece of glass is that and so much more. Don’t get me started. For now, let’s stick to the fact that it’s a writing device.


Another interest. Ever since I leaned to read (before I started school, by the way. Thanks Mom, Aunt Inez, Aunt Bea.) I have wanted to be a writer. Well, now I write. Some. Nothing to brag about, but I enjoy it when I do it. That doesn’t make me a writer, really. That’s not the number one way I would describe myself. Writing is just another one of those interests that demands a lot of my time. Not in the doing so much as in the thinking about doing. Intending to do when time permits. I love to read books by writers on writing.


There are several self-publish books rattling around in my head. A book of Kachina paintings. One of horse paintings. Best of A Farnsworth a day. Best of When a Painter Snaps. Best landscape paintings. People. Still lifes. On and on. Oh, don’t forget e-books and zines.


Now there’s a big one. I hit school running. Ate it up. Skipped second grade after a week or two. Bogged down a bit in third grade, moved to a lumber camp with a small two-room, two-teacher country, first-through-eighth-grade school for my fourth year. A week or two later, I was promoted to fifth grade. Each grade got a fourth of the teacher’s time, which meant I could spend the rest of the day listening, if the lesson was interesting, stare out the window, daydreaming, or my favorite, go to the bookcase at the back of the room and read ever more interesting and challenging books. Learning. Loving it.

For the seventh grade, I moved into town, lived alone in a rooming house full of bus drivers. School began to be about regimentation, ringing Pavlovian bells, memorizing dates with no real, living context, rules that made little sense. Aside from Mrs. Walkup’s English class my sophomore year, I didn’t learn much in school beyond the first couple of years. I barely made it through high school. Had no interest in college. None. But after a while, I noticed how much I was enjoying reading again, learning. It was school that I detested, not learning. I loved learning. Still do. About anything. Everything. Hell, at the rate I’m going, I may actually know something, someday. But it’s the journey, not the destination that matters, right?


So, with painting, photography, videography, writing, learning and all the branches and varieties thereof, you can see how much I need to manage my time. Time management? Something else to learn? Plus I’ll need time to put it into practice.

Maybe I need to break it all down. Let’s see. What do I want to do most with my time, the most valuable thing I own?


That’s the most important thing I do. Or, lately, don’t do. Gotta fix that.

Take photos

That’s spontaneous, fits in everywhere.

Take photos deliberately

That’s something I don’t do enough of, except, sometimes, when traveling.

Make photos

Random. Usually done when I’m trying to get something else done, but an image pops up and demands attention. Play time. But with a purpose.

Manage my images

In desperate need of attention. Currently eats up a lot of time with little in the way of results.


Study. Not just jumping down every rabbit hole that presents itself, especially on the internet. Real, dedicated, productive study of subjects of real importance to me.

Rabbit holes

Can’t just ignore them. They’re too important to me. Too interesting. I just need to get control of them, keep them in perspective.


I love it. I really miss doing my daily paintings. Would love to fire up my old When A Painter Snaps daily photo blog again. Want to occasionally go on a rant, like today. I would like to do an occasional interview, or introduce a painter or a photographer. Or discuss a style, or a movement. Whew! See what I mean? And yet, somehow, I manage to let days slip past me without a blog post of any kind.


I would like to develop more of a dialog in the comments section. Not just an endless string of Thank You’s but some real give and take. What I would really like is to get some dialog going between commenters. Some discussion, some depth. How about it, gang?


Oh, yeah, and I want to teach more, maybe workshops, maybe on the blog, definitely with more YouTube video demos.


Naturally, all this needs to be worked in around family, friends, travel, transportation (Betsy, my iVan, needs to be replaced with something more dependable), a website in desperate need of attention, business, and on and on it goes. There are movies to be watched, I haven’t been fishing in years, I definitely need to walk more

Oh, boy

I’ve got some fixin’ to do!

Right now, I’m going to go make myself some lunch, then I’m going to muck out the studio while I try and come up with some sort of effective schedule, or breakdown of my days. I need to focus, prioritize and schedule. You know… Time Management.

Wish me luck.

Life is, indeed, Grand!

Which version do you prefer, and why? Let us know in the comments.





Imagene / 1945

Thanks Mom, for having me. Love, Johnny.

And to all the great Moms out there, Happy Mother's Day.




We did the fishmonger last time; now let's do some things with just the fish. We start by cropping the original image, removing the part that we no longer need.

This gives us a starting point, but let's try and make it more interesting. We could start by cropping down to the most interesting fish, eliminating even more of the unnecessary bits, and pumping up the color…

Hmmmm, not bad. What if we darken the image and add more contrast?

I kind of like the sinister look that it has now. Definitely more interesting than what we started with. We could stop here, but why not go back a step, and pump the color even more…

Now, let's play around with some distortion… Give it a little of the old fish eye look. Pun intended.

I think we've got something here. Let's go further with it and see what we get.

Yikes! Not sure I like this one. But wait. Notice that big, deep, black hole that has opened up in the center. What a great spot for an editor to place a title. And there's another negative space in the lower right that could hold some additional copy. A handy app for trying this idea on for size is Skitch…

That was fun! But I think I'll try and take it even further. I'm liking those guys on the right, so I think I'll crop down to them and rotate, like this…

Powerful, and might look good with text flowing in the dark space. But the fish on the left troubles me, the way it leads the eye out the bottom of the picture. Of course, that could be a good thing if it worked within the context of a page layout, for instance, taking the reader right into the beginning of the story. The red one in the bottom left also bothers me, as does the hard to see third fish on the right. I play around with several versions, changing values, contrast, sharpness, color saturation, etc, until I come up with this one that I like…

Much better! Some carefully applied vignette helped with the lower left, and I brought up the light on fish number three, while selectively applying more vignette to keep the values down on the rest of the image.

Want to take it further, yet? OK! Let's rotate this sucker and see how it feels…

Interesting. But, now that upside down fish is too distracting. And the big one on top is way too heavy. Time for another cropping…

And Bingo! How's this for a magazine layout, or a blog banner. Now all we need is a bunch of fish tales ;-)

We've come a long way from the original photo. There were several points along the way that we could have veered off from in even more directions. Another time I'll share some things to be done with a failed original to make it into something useable. On yet another, I'll show how I get from photo research to a finished painting. So stay tuned!

Hasta Luego



Here's a photo I took with my iPhone 6 Plus, recently, in the San Juan Market in Mexico City. I'm happy with it. However, I couldn't help wondering how ot might work as a black and white:

Hmmm, I like this one, too. But I decided to return to the full color version. Then I thought, what if it had “bokeh” (selective focus), forcing the foreground to appear more important by playing down the background:

I decided to push the bokeh more aggressively…

But felt that maybe that was too extreme. I decided to go back and tinker with the colors:

Oh, yeah, I like that; but how about more of the same?

Garish? Maybe. I do like it, though. I tried adding some bokeh to this version:

OK, that's my favorite. Not realistic, true. Overdone. Obvious, even. An abstraction, really. But then, so is the black and white version. It's not natural, either. Truth is, though, this bright, powerful version feels more like being there, to me. More like the emotional impact of being there. Both have their audience. Frankly, I'm in the audience for both.

I'm still happy with the original, too, really. It's already miles ahead of anything I was ever able to do before digital photography came along.

Now, I don't much like using the ready made filters in the apps I work with, even though some, not all, of them are quite beautiful and effective. I prefer to play around with various adjustments, sometimes delicately, sometimes pushing them beyond reason. I don't keep track of my methods, because I don't want my work to become formulaic. I approach each image based on its content, and manipulate it accordingly.

Apps used, PhotoForge2, Leonardo, Snapseed.

Next, we'll take a part of this image and get really wild with it. Stay tuned…

Hasta Mañana




I'm running late tonight, but wanted to share with you this shot taken on the way from my hotel to the Mercado San Juan, recently.

iPhone 6+ / PhotoForge2 / Snapseed

Street photography is, as many of you know by now, one of my favorite pastimes. Especially in Mexico City. And, of course, another, newer, favorite is sketching in my iPhone. Here are a few more recent sketches done while watching tv.

Let me know in the comments if you like seeing them as a group, like this, or if you prefer them larger and in single file.

Please be patient with me. Paintings are coming up soon. I've been working on a project that I'm not at liberty to discuss just now, but I will fill you in on it when I can.

Hasta Mañana



Well, gang, I finally have Watercolor Demo No.2 ready for your viewing pleasure. It was filmed last fall, on my iPhone 4s, using Filmic Pro, and edited in iMovie on my iPad Air, over the past couple of days. And nights.

I know one thing. The more I watch it, the more inspired I become to once again get some watercolor flowing. I hope it will have the same effect on some of you!

If you don’t paint, but enjoy looking at or collecting watercolors, I hope you will find this glimpse into the making of a watercolor interesting and informative.

So, here goes…

It’s really not all that difficult to put together a demo like this. I had to relearn the editing part and learn how to find and add music to the sound track. That slowed me down, of course, but the real problems were caused by the mess I’ve made by not properly organizing and storing my images. I really do need to work out a better system.

I’m not sure why the image above is so blurry. I suspect it’s because Youtube just picks a frame at random from inside the movie, and they happened to catch one that was in the process of dissolving into another. I just now ran the video on YouTube, and it’s working just fine there, so I hope it’s working for everyone here. If it gives you problems, go to YouTube and search for Farnsworth Watercolor. I hope you like it.

Hasta Mañana


Watercolor Demo No. 2 / Detail

OK, I’m flummoxed! Here’s what happened last night. I spent hours putting together a video watercolor demo. When I attempted to post it to YouTube, I was informed that I didn’t have enough storage on my iPad.

No problem, I thought. I could delete a few images and regain enough space. I deleted what I thought was enough, but no, I still didn’t have enough space. I deleted more. Same result. More. Same. So I deleted some expendable videos.

Woops! One of the videos I deleted turned out to be the core of the video I had just edited!

No problem, right? Wrong. The deleted photos and videos do go into a recently devoted folder, where they remain for thirty days. Unless, as I had done, they are deleted from that location in order to regain the space they’ve been taking up. Gone. For good. Permanently!

This morning, I tracked the footage down on my iPhone, where it was first recorded, and after a few mis-tries, transferred it to my iPad Air, and rebuilt the video. Of course I had to re-edit the footage, as well.

But guess what? Still not enough storage.

Alright, I fumbled and bumbled around for most of the day, and finally figured out that I could open the Dropbox folder on my iPad Air, (after wading through out of date site after out of date site on Google) and go to Carousel (who knew?) and backup all the images on my iPad Air to Dropbox, then delete them from my iPad, freeing up tons of space. Right?

So I start the process, and am informed that the backup has begun. There are 11774 files “left”. OK, I will wait, patiently, until the backup is done.

Then the notification changes. Repeatedly. It’s currently at 12,154 left!!! What’s going on here?

When will I get my iPad back? When will I be able to post my video? I guess the answers will present themselves at some time in the future.

Meanwhile, I’m writing this post on my older iPad Retina, my backup machine.

And now I’ve transferred it to my iPad Air, where I’ve added the detail above; just a peek at the subject of the watercolor demo that I hope to be able to share with you tomorrow, after I figure out how to regain the storage space I need without, I hope, losing any images.

Stay tuned, and wish me luck.







I just spent four and a half hours building another watercolor demonstration video for you and managed to inadvertently delete it just as I was loading it up to YouTube. Oh, well!

It's three in the morning and I'm way too tired to start over, so, instead, here are some recent tv quick sketches…

I'll try tomorrow to rebuild the demo.

Hasta Mañana











Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Painted on my iPad Retina using ArtRage

I received an email from a friend a couple of days ago, saying that a mutual friend was having problems with her computer and didn’t like typing and blogging with her iPad. Her computer has been in the shop for weeks, and she doesn’t like typing on her iPad, because it keeps filling in words she didn’t intend to type. Also, she can’t figure out how to load photos onto her blog.

Here is part of the email I sent to her…

Hi P—–,

I have fallen behind in following my favorite blogs since my recent trip to the Yucatan and D.F., so didn’t realize the extent of the computer and iPad problems you’ve been having. I did get an email the other day from N—– saying you needed some help with your iPad.

I’m afraid I can’t be very much help where your first generation iPad is concerned. My first was second or third generation.

I wholeheartedly recommend a newer iPad over a computer.

That’s because I am a dyed in the wool convert, and you know how they can be. It’s also because I don’t know everything about your needs, etc.

That said, let me make my case and offer a few suggestions…

On my recent trip, I left my laptop at home. And I didn’t miss it for a moment. I used my iPad and my iPhone for everything. Last year I spent a month and a half in Mexico and a month and a half in Spain. I lugged around a laptop, a couple of hard drives, a camera, chargers and cables, etc. and I did almost everything on my iPhone and iPad.

I am at this moment sitting in my easy chair in the living room, writing with one finger on my iPad about as fast as I can think. It did take some getting used to, some practice, but I now actually prefer it to a keyboard.

I draw on both devices, and have even done paintings on the iPad. ( See above) I do both photographs and video on the iPad. HD video. It is, of course, many other things as well. My darkroom, cutting room, library, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, radio, entertainment center, movie theater, archives, outlet, post office, museum, travel agent, classroom, personal tutor, catalogs, magazines, weather center, gallery, portfolio, notebook, newspaper, recorder, personal secretary, alarm, clock, sketchbook, easel, navigator, flashlight, even my carpenter’s level, and so much more. And it is virtually always with me.

With 128gb of storage along with iCloud and Dropbox, I have plenty of storage for now.

I do still need a computer and a couple of two terabyte hard drives to store and access my photos stretching back to before the dawn of digital. But I’m looking to eliminate the need for those as soon as feasible.

Yesterday, in fact, I had to dig out my laptop, hook up one of those external drives and locate some images from a trip I took eight years ago. As soon as I was finished, back in the closet it went! Oh, and when I turned it on, I had to work through a couple of hours of updates, viris scans, crashes, restarts, etc. all in the odious Windows Eight.

I encounter virtually none of that with my iPad!

Now, I have always been a Windows user, with the exception of two times thst I bought Macs and promptly ditched them. Macs did do things better, but Windows could do so many more things.

Then I got my hands on an iPad. That, for me, was the beginning of the end for Windows machines. The iPad, with all those apps, could do more than Windows. And a lot cheaper. Free! A dollar. Some, gasp, ten dollars. With free and frequent upgrades! And even the operating system upgrades are free!!! Compared to Windows software costing fifty, a hundred bucks and more? And expensive annual upgrades?

I have traveled with laptops, notebooks, nebooks, ebooks, and iPads. Believe me, an iPad is a lot easier on the back than any of the others.

At this point, about the only thing lacking on my iDevices is a powerful optical zoom lens. That’s not really a necessity, but something I find convenient. Besides, I understand that Apple is working on one that will fit inside the iPhone.

True, the iPad is an expensive little machine. Unless we consider the cost of software and upgrades, the need for a separate camera and video camera (and their added weight and bulk), and all the other things that it replaces. Add to that the frequent repair costs on a computer, and the iPad starts to look like quite a bargain.

I realize, of course, that just because it’s a bargain doesn’t necessarily mean it’s affordable.

I don’t have the newest model. I have the iPad Air, and now there is the iPad Air 2. Not that much difference, so I will wait a model or two to upgrade. I did recently move up from an iPhone 4s to a 6plus. A huge difference, and well worth both the wait and the cost.

I believe that if you can get your hands on an iPad Retina, the model previous to the Air, you will find your need for a laptop evaporating while your capacity for both work and enjoyment expands. With the latest iOS, that machine would serve you almost as well as the very latest, and for substantially less momey, with the camera being the main difference. I know the difference between my Retina and my older model, especially with the newest operating system is like night and day.

You may not need 128gb of storage. I would advise you get the most you can possibly afford, though, as enough seldom is enough for very long.

OK, enough of my fanboy rant. Time for some specifics.

Getting photos onto your blog. I use an app named Blogsy. (Check it out at blogsyapp.com) Easy peasy, as they say. Plus the developer provides free, easy to follow, complete yet concise video tutorials. Blogsy also makes loading videos onto your blog a snap.

The problem you’re having with the iPad supplying incorrect words can, I believe, be easily remedied by setting a switch in settings. On mine, it’s: settings / general / keyboards / auto correct off and predictive off.

For writing, I suggest using the app Textilus. It’s free, by the way, for now. Regularly five or six bucks. It’s what I’m using to write this.

Both of these apps require iOS 7.0 or later. I don’t know what you are using. If you aren’t sure, you can go to settings / general / about.

Well, P—–, I hope this is of some use to you. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help out any other way.




I later found out that her first generation iPad can’t be upgraded to iOS 7.0, a minimum requirement for both the apps I recommended. I have no connection to nor do I receive any compensation for any of my recommendations. These are simply some of the tools I work with on a daily basis and they have been arrived at after considerable trial and error.


I realize that many professionals have heftier requirements, like Photoshop, dslr cameras and more powerful computers. I don’t, and I don’t believe most people, including a lot of professionals do, either.


That’s my two cents.


What’s yours?


What does a man need — really need? Sterling Hayden


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