Friday, November 23, 2012


Having been so busy getting ready for my next big project, I didn't have enough time to get anything substantial out. I wanted to keep my hand in the paint, so to speak though. So I put together this little red painting. I wanted to see how warm I could get and still have the cool vase not pop too much. Also a friend had a really cool skull and I wanted to paint it. It all seemed to go together so I had a little fun for a couple of days. I like the symbolism in a Vanitas - life and death - the eternal circle. The white flowers also represent beauty, the skull - the transience of life and the candle snuffer - well, that seems pretty obvious. The colors on my screen are a bit saturated and that doesn't surprise me as reds don't always translate well on the screen. The vase appears a bit blue here too and is, in fact, a little turquoise. I seem to have hit the limits of my Photoshop abilities in working with this one to get the color to read right. 

Some health issues have kept me from the studio on a regular basis. I hope to be in the "pink" soon and my next project is "Sleeping Beauty".  I plan on documenting the entire process of the painting here on this site as well as my teaching blog. Should be fun so stay tuned. 

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

"Red Riding Hood"
Oil on Paper and Board

Yes, you've seen a smaller version of this one already. But this is the actual painting while the other was the color study. I love allegorical paintings. This is the first of a series I plan on doing. The next one is already in the works and I'm as excited as a kid with a new toy. It's so cool to get my creative freedom back after three years of study. It's not that I felt restricted while at Georgetown Atelier. My teacher, Tenaya Sims gave us an enormous amount of freedom. But there is something about the intensive environment and academic climate in an Atelier that seemed to hold me back. Perhaps it was my self conscious fear of failure or making mistakes. Everything felt stiff and stilted. It feels now though as if I am finally doing the work I'd always wanted to do. I still feel daunted by some tasks and many aspects of painting classically, but overall, I'm more confident and my drawing and rendering skills have improved measurably even since graduation. I want to jump up and click my heals!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Day at Hurricane Ridge

We've had some of the best weather this summer on the Peninsula than we've had in three years. I recently spent the day up on Hurricane Ridge with some friends painting. It's just a stone's throw from where I live.  The weather was perfect and aside from the birds that were roosting on my easel (and even my hand!), we had only a couple of deer for company. It brought to mind what Kevin Macpherson said: "Just think...this is your job. How cool is that?" 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Red Riding Hood - color study

Some time ago when I was still attending Georgetown Atelier, we had a little red headed model who posed for us. During her breaks she would don this gorgeous red robe that had a huge hood on it. It was an irresistible combination. I asked her if she would model for me after class for a photo session and she agreed. We met one evening and worked together for about two hours. The results were so good that I almost couldn't wait for the end of school so I could get started on a painting. 

While I prefer to work from life, the model lives in Seattle and I, unfortunately, live in Port Angeles - a difficult commute for either myself or the model. Now that school is over, I'm a bit reluctant to spend a lot of time commuting. I had previous done a small portrait from life of her in the class so I was confident that I had her coloring. For working from photos I use a large flat screen monitor in my studio that rotates to vertical. This provides more realistic coloring and I can adjust things as I need to.

There were many photos that came out beautiful and worthy of painting and some I will pursue at another time, but this particular pose (with some changes on my part) worked because of the edgy quality of her gaze. It seemed perfect for the story of Red Riding Hood. Umm...just who is the wolf here?

I spent about a week on the drawing which I did to size and then reduced it for the purpose of doing this color study. The study is only 8" x 11" on "Yes" canvas. The finished piece will be 19" x 27.5" but likely done on board. I'm still working out my preference. This came out so good, I'm going to frame it too. I'm having a great time! School was so intense, I almost forgot how much I love to paint. It's good to be back.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Day in the Sun

"A Sultry Afternoon"
Summer has finally arrived on the Olympic Peninsula, late albeit. Well it hardly ever gets here before mid July anyway. But it was quite warm at 80 or so here last week so I took off with some friends to do some painting. We found a lovely spot out near Gardner right on the water that had a great view of two areas bordered by salt marshes on one side, forest on the other and Ocean off to the rear. We were able to bring our truck right up to the spot where we rolled out our easels and set up for a glorious evening of painting. My vitamin D got a super charge and I believe I may actually have even turned a little coppery despite a ton of sun block. We went for two days in a row as the weather was holding and we loved the spot so much.

My friend Monika brought along a friend of her's from out of town (Dave) on day two. Dave is still a puppy painter and was having a hard time on his first attempt at painting in the great outdoors. 

I took pity and being the pushy teacher that I am, I jumped in and asked if he would like some help. Dave was more than happy to get some guidance and so I pointed out a few things he could do to improve his approach. For one, he was using too many colors on his palette so I squeezed out just three colors plus black and white to get him started. Then I illustrated on the side of his board how he could block out the major shapes and just jigsaw the simple landscape together. Dave proved an apt pupil and jumped right in following directions carefully. The improvement in his work was startling but I couldn't convince him to let me take a photo of it. He promises though that by next year he'll be good competition for me.  My friend Monika did a great piece - I gave her a lesson also and above is my evening's work.

 Here's Monika at work. You can see the marsh off to the right with the ocean beyond on the left (well, sort of). Here's one of Dave getting a lesson from your's truly. 

Dave getting a lesson
Me - looks like I'm talking to someone there - or catching flies.
 Hmm. Think it's time for Weight Watchers again. This
was on Day 1 when I painted the above piece. 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Master Copy of Rembrandt's "Man in Armour"

Well school is finally over. Hooray, Yay! We had our graduation on June 30th. "Man in Armour" was the master copy I chose to do for one of my final projects. I'm quite happy with the way it came out but I plan to do quite a few more. I learned a lot from this painting and it taught me how much I can learn from doing copies. 

I'll post a couple of other pieces I did during the final months of Georgetown Atelier but then I'm on to my own projects and I'll be posting those here. I plan on doing some weekly (if not daily) paintings again that I'll be posting for sale as well. Stay tuned and thanks for sticking with me through the long drought.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In Balance

I was going to call this painting "Ode to David Gray" as it was his style and palette that inspired this piece. But I  changed my mind and it became "In Balance" instead. 
I enjoyed the challenge of rendering the muted colors and edges in this piece. The color temperature was very challenging but I think I did a pretty good job overall. Fun.