Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Found this model manning the register at Dad's Sandwiches and she finally came and posed for us. This painting came together in large, simple shapes without many paintovers. God they look so much better when not overworked. I believe it is better to leave minor "errors" and retain a fresh spontaneous look than to "correct them" and and up with an overworked dead piece. I guess the trick is to know which things must be repainted and what can be left alone.
Tery Miura says " a wrong brush stroke executed well is better than a correct stroke executed timidly" and I guess I am talking about another variation on that theme.

Recent portraits

Did this portrait of a middle age football player in Debbie Gualco's class. I am pleased...hangs together well..not too tight..but the background is boring!
I prefer the composition on this painting. I went back and subordinated the values on the shoulders and I need to repaint the lips but I love the simplicity of the eye.

Draw back of dark grounds

We had to paint copies off heads from a master painting for Terry Miura's class. I realized that Madame X by Sargent didnt work on the dark grounds. It is impossible to get complete coverage of the dark values on the slippery oil primed surface. The results is muddied flesh tones. I wont use such dark grounds in the future. Plan to bring the ground value back to above a midtone.

Painting on dark grounds.

I have been experimenting with grounds for about a year. I have been using the settled pigments from my Gamsol recycling can, tinted or shaded, warmed or cooled, and mixed with walnut oil and Gamsol. This gives me an oil primed surface. I love how the darker grounds make the high values and intense colors jump off the canvas and being able to leave a lot of unpainted surface is appealing to my eye. Over time the grounds have gotten darker. Cool seems to work better indoors and warm does well for landscapes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Simple shapes equals good design

I painted this in Don Hatfield's class. He is always reminding us to find the large shapes defined by the simplified values and work from them, always adjusting in relation to each other and avoiding detail when ever possible. After hearing this for years I think I am finally figuring out how do it. If you can't make as simple thumbnail value sketch don't waste the paint.

Less can be more

This fast sketch done in an hour with Indian Yellow, white, and purple on white canvas is full of errors but I left as many alone as possible while working towards a painting that still reads well. It feels full of energy and engages my brain! This is the direction I want to take my painting.

detailed realism

This portrait of Alexis is really tight. I think the colorfull scheme keeps it attractive but it's hard to imigine anybody but Alexis ( or those who love her) wanting to own it. Well done but not exciting. The portrait of Jane below was painted five days after she was assaulted. Although it is not as realistic and has some obvious errors ( pasted on lips !) it is a lot more interesting and has wider appeal.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

mono chrome self portraits

I have been taking classes from Terry Miura for the last three weeks. I studied with him for about a year and a half when I first started painting. He is a great artist a a super guy. I am delighted he is teaching again. He gave us home work! First self portrait in a single color plus white.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Stilllife Fossils and Flowers

I have a casting of a sabretooth tiger skull (smilodon californiacus)and I loved how it looked next to flowers. I liked the poetic juxtaposition on the fierce with the fragile, the carnivore with the photosynthesizer, the extinct with the alive. The skull was fun to paint and I think the painting all have good color harmonies, but the flowers are overpainted. They are all a little higher key than they appear here but I tend to paint dark. I think I would have done better to scrape and and repaint the flowers. I have been doing that lately on overworked sections and it is a really powerful tool. These are 14"x 18" or 12"x16" and I painted them in 2009.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Portrait in Blue Shirt

OK I'm just getting started so bear with me. I plan to post my representational art. Some will be old....some will be current. I want to talk about what I like and hate about the work in an attempt to grow as an artist. Art , like life is complicated (which is why it is so much fun) so I hope to raise a lot of issues. I painted this portrait (11"x14" canvas panel) about a year ago. I love the shirt ...the economy of brush strokes on the dark gray-green ground worked well. I wish I could work this simply and effectively more often. The dark ground is dramatic but it shows thru a lot of paints lessening the intensity.