Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Getting Out for Perspective

Marina and Beach Study on primed paper, 6 x 9 

Our weather has brought rain lately. It's been humid and the yard grass grows so quickly, I have to work harder to keep up during the evenings these days. On the up side, I've had a chance to cloud watch, get some much needed perspective on landscape color, and work up small studies to help me with studio paintings. Here are a handful of results from 3 July. These are fun and quick to do with brush, knife and dabs of thick paint...bliss. :) 

Happy Belated 4th everyone - thanks for stopping by and please visit me at

Peace and Health ;)

Marina Study 1, oil on primed paper, 6 x 6 

Land Study beyond Marina, oil on primed paper, 4 x 7 
Impending Storm/Beach and Marina, oil on primed paper, 6 x 6 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Working Big to Small...

This idea helps me everyday, no matter the subject.
I painted the two works below with the idea of working big to small, using an economy of brush strokes and mark making. The green apples and grapes show a passage in a recent 11 x 14 painting. I worked out a color palette for the apples beforehand in order to keep my initial brush marks as fresh as possible. The sunset study is 6 x 6. I like this size for quickly capturing the glow in an evening sky. I toned the canvas with a pale yellow and used two different painting knives. These are great to lay on color and clean up is easy. :) A few preliminary studies helped me determine color palette before going out this particular evening. Sunsets are fast acting, so the practice work allowed me time to think, paint and start again. I managed to get this in a 35 minute session with an economy of marks with knife. As with any subject matter, close observation and memory are helpful during the process. 

Detail from 11 x 14 - Counted Brushstrokes Exercise - economy of marks
Sunset Study - 6 x 6 oil on panel
Progression of Figure, charcoal on paper

My class demo on the right shows one way I choose to work big to small. This method allows me to simplify form and rely on directional line, and larger shapes at the beginning of a work.

I start with intersecting line to explore and define the shape of the figure, height versus width. Tonal value comes next; presenting a more graphic image. This helps me establish spacial relationships within the figure. Once light and dark patterns are laid in, I can look more at the negative space surrounding the figure. This helps me check proportion and make adjustments.

Refinements come as I feel satisfied with initial shape, proportion and value. This is one way I can begin a drawing or painting - it works well and I use it often when questions arise. Focus on the larger shapes first reminds me to put aside the name assigned to a particular subject matter. In this case the figure is a closed shape with angles that are pretty easy to read. I can rely more on those identifying shapes, directional line and pattern at the start of any work. I also love the crop of dark hair on the figure. It provides a great dark pop in a key area of the composition.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the day. I invite you to visit me at 

Peace and Health all - 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Working on Visual Language....

Class Demo for in home studio class
It's the first of February and among other things, I'm working on ideas for classes. Practice runs with different exercises help me develop a visual language that I pull from when it's time to demonstrate and talk with students.

The doing is part of the instruction and my hope is that this provides a framework for students going forward. I share my thoughts concerning methodology - how I approach the start of a painting, or my take on brushwork and handling the painting knife - always fun. I work to convey language that clarifies process or information in terms of the physical effort. Maybe it's the Art History student in me, but my intent is to give students process and terminology for whatever comes next, painting, exhibitions, talking with patrons...Happy Painting Processes. This includes drawing, value and perception of form as shape.

I do this with full understanding of the time and effort needed to make art. It took me a long while to make good use of ideas like working larger forms or patterns in a scene to the smaller details that refine a work. Although I was taught the benefits of the grey scale at school, over the years I've come to realize how to see the scale of values and make judgements concerning the pressure to apply to pencil or stick.
Through trial and error I have learned to use the tools of charcoal to benefit a drawing. I've hit walls while exploring mark making exercises with charcoal and oil, but know the benefit of running vertical and horizontal lines to examine relationships within forms at the start of a work. I've benefited from color charts like those below - a real gift. They take time and yet save me waste of time and paint in the end. I can explore color and value process with a small study, which provides opportunity to test and plan out color schemes before moving on to a large portrait, still life or landscape. Let's face it...paint is costly and I value the material each time I paint or purchase.

Portrait Tinting Chart in oil

Exploration of how color informs another color - class material

Color Mixing Chart for Acrylics

The image below shows a typical studio day. I'm preparing two set ups for demonstration in my Thursday night paint class. The study on my easel shows acrylic on primed paper with focus on the smaller bunch of grapes to the left. I use cardboard boxes for set ups within classes to enhance the effect of light and shadow against some diffused lighting. The boxes work well and are easy to transport, and carry paint materials. I've shared this idea with middle and high school students, and have had productive class times using these as a learning tool in terms of how to create a space for still life. The students brought in boxes pulled from local markets and I supplied paint and brushes to transform the interior of the box. We used basics, black, white to achieve grey, with red to warm up the color as needed. Students go outdoors to paint the boxes, returning inside to assemble pieces for still life while the boxes are drying in the sun. The result has been a great painting from life process.

Detail of Grapes with Burnt Sienna for block in 

Studio set up - looking at demo for class with students

Below are demo sketches in charcoal that show application of the medium with pencil, vine and compressed charcoal sticks. Thanks for stopping by...I invite you to visit me at
Peace and Health all - :)

Pear Studies -  eraser, stump and charcoal dust, line with vine charcoal and tone with vine.

Basic Shapes set up for drawing from life in charcoal class

Grey Scale, value comparisons

Approach to Basic Shapes in pencil, demo

Demo mid-way through
- vine charcoal

Blocking in basic shapes, noting patterns of value

Mark Making Exercise/Demo for class on paper

Sketch for At Play - charcoal on paper 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016



As I talk with people about making art, many
Light and Shadow with Basic Forms - Bottle with Onions
comment on the difficulty involved with the
process of drawing or painting. They often
bring up how hard it can be to begin a
work. I don't disagree.

Seeing is the thing...or shifting to another way of seeing objects gives us the visual knowledge or language to break down shape and form.

Lighting helps us to illuminate objects and gives us information to shape the illusion of mass or volume. Of course good lighting also works to create mood which can add a great deal to any drawing or painting.

Paint Tubes in Light and Shadow

Roosters, oil on primed panel 

Getting back to the act of seeing or the idea of perception...the question is what do you see? A vase...two figures...both? I remember these exercises from school, and the truth of course, is they are meant to induce mental conflict. It forced me to problem solve; to decide not to name the forms and do the work of looking at shape and form; positive space versus negative space and do the work.

Vases and Faces - Exercise for left right brain 

If I'm truthful each time I set out to draw or paint, this process takes place and I'm forced to look at the simple shape and form, light and shadow, line and lack there of to create a work. The encouraging idea is that I get more and more comfortable with every work, and am able to get to that place of seeing things in terms of the basics...the simplicity. Thank goodness :)

Sketches in ink and charcoal - thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

Peace and Health All

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Larger Essentials...

Balsamic and Citrus, 8 x 8 oi on panel - 60 minute sketch
I enjoy a quick study in oil and the selective process involved with a 30 or 60 minute block of time. It forces me to simplify. Time is short with these exercises, so I make the best of the minutes I have and get straight to the point of things - shape, local color and value, refining only those elements time will allow.

This is not to say that all things work well or even as I'd like with each session, but confidence grows as skill increases and soon enough, I feel more in control of the painting. It's not unlike the act of creating form. By this I mean, the flat circle must become more like a sphere before it can resemble an orange. Whatever we do, our personal growth is very step at a time we get there.

The 45 minute study below is from summer 2016. It shows the bridge at Victoria Landing not far from my home studio in Woodstock, Georgia. I travel this bridge every day and love the area. Before starting the composition, I toned the panel with a brighter earthen color. This shows through in places and helps to balance and compliment the green foliage along the bridge. I used brush and painting knife to complete this painting.

Bridge at Cherokee Mills, oil on 6 x 6 wood panel

A recent study for a portrait commission. It's an honor to render this drawing...such a beautiful dog.
Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to visit me at

Enjoy the day.
Peace and Health all -

Study of Bear for Holiday Commission, charcoal on toned paper

Monday, November 7, 2016

Loosing and Finding Balance...
Red Umbrellas, oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel - palette knife work

Ever lose yourself in something? You know...that feeling somehow that you may be on the cusp of a new way of seeing, yet dangerously close to losing all sense of what is up or down? Despite any uncertainty, for me hitting the wall this way can be a good thing.  :)

I'm referring to exploration and process....ideas and mistakes...taking a leap that feels good even though it comes with the occasional and probable skinned knee. Band aids count as a drawing and painting surface, right?  :)

Attached are a few things from the past weeks, demonstrations from oil and acrylic classes plus studio work. I've also attached a flyer for my PaperMaking Workshop which started up at the Cobb/Marietta Museum of Art in Marietta, Georgia this past weekend. We have four weekends of fun in November rather than the three listed on the flyer. I secured a make up day for all concerned. These are nice to have as a back up so we can get more accomplished, and have room to breathe some. Getting classes worked out for the coming months, Charcoal, Painting in oil by the lake and more PaperMaking too. Hope you enjoy and please visit me at 

Thanks for stopping by. Peace and Health - :)
Value Study, 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas panel - 60 minute Class Demo

White Bowl, 8 x 10 oil on canvas panel, 60 minute Class Demo
Value study, 36 x 24 oil on canvas - studio work in progress

Holding, charcoal on leftover paper - about 12 x 16

Finding Balance, ink and charcoal on 9 x 12 paper

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Marigolds, Acrylic Demo on 11 x 9 canvas paper
Day 28 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge

Find Simplicity...

“Three Rules of Work:
Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Albert Einstein

I've read this quote many times. I'm told it comes from Einstein - figures. Whatever the case, it always seems a good fit for my daily life. Today is no different. 

The attached painting is my demonstration from this past Thursday night's acrylic class. I'm working to learn things about acrylics that I might share with a class of seven. Although I don't know much about this medium, it's teaching me so much - for example, how to find harmony from the disconnect I feel between oil painting that I'm familiar with, and acrylic painting which I know very little about. I am relying on my knowledge of drawing and application of paint. The beauty of acrylics is they dry quickly, that said, the drawback to acrylics is they dry quickly. :)

I'm accustomed to working with paint plus odorless Gamsol in stages of wet in wet. Of course we can work with oils in layers but the processes are still different. Whatever the case, in this time of learning to teach, I find myself identifying even more with the final line of this quote"...In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Isn't everyday this way?

Here's another small work in acrylic. Thanks for stopping by and please visit me at

Acrylic on canvas paper, 6 x 9

Peace and Health all -