Thursday, December 18, 2014

Looking Back

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First Winter Snow
9x12 Acrylic on Canvas
Order Prints > Click Here

Brrr. This is one of the few winter scenes I have ever painted. And although I think snow is beautiful, “cold” is a rare subject of choice.
Created in 2001, this landscape was done with acrylics on a 9x12 cotton canvas. The old maple syrup farm is located in Stephentown, New York. Viewing it brings back fond memories of my relatives who live there.
Back then, I had a completely different approach to painting. My palette was limited. I preferred bristle brushes and did not prepare the canvas with a base coat. Every color was lighted with white.
Using a linen canvas seemed farfetched. I avoided higher quality materials and waited several more years before even giving linen a try. Now linen has become a favorite surface.
Things certainly have changed.
Whether adopting a new paint color, tool, surface or even philosophy, the creation of art is a powerful source for personal growth. If you’re willing to explore the possibilities, it can be a tremendously rewarding adventure!
Thanks to each of you who have filled my days with warmth, through your kind words of encouragement this year.  Enjoy the holiday season, have a Merry Christmas, and keep creating!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Oil Painting Tip - Take a Nap

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Cat Napper
8x10 Oil on panel
Prints & Original Available

The painting is now complete after three sessions. Each layer of oils was dry to touch before applying the next. I enjoyed adding more colors and values, while keeping the variety of brush strokes in mind.
The majority of tones lie within the medium to dark range. Highlights of white were placed above the mouth and on the tips of the paws. The cat’s facial features were created with finer details and some blending. I left out the whiskers because I thought the extra lines might serve as a distraction. Fur is loosely rendered, with the direction of the brush strokes forming the anatomy. And upon further evaluation, and without deliberation, the body shape seems to resemble a lightly toasted croissant. Hmmm.
In addition to other factors, artists continually make decisions regarding the amount of time and effort spent on each phase of the creative process. As professionals, goals may be specific, such as completing a painting within a few hours or days, keeping the portfolio fresh for review. Pending deadlines set by galleries, clients, and upcoming shows may also enter into the equation. Otherwise known as production, we bring pieces to closures, liking them or not, and move onto the next.
Although there is certainly no guarantee, the paintings I tend to cherish the most are formed in the absence of such necessary constraints. Instead, they evolve around an unlimited number of power naps, formally known as catnaps.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Work in Progress - Cat Painting

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This is my current work in progress, painted on an 8x10 Ampersand gessobord. Here is the first layer of oils applied over the base coat. I will let this dry for a few days and change the areas I think need improvement. I find that overworking oils causes the colors to mix and turn into grey, so I try to stop painting at the instinctive moment when mud is about to occur. There are times when you want to achieve that effect, but in this case, I envision a combination of true colors with minimal blending. 
My plan going forward:
Focal point- Further defining the cat’s face and paws by adding another layer of pure white
Body details– Emphasize the direction and details of the fur
Color and value – Painting additional cool tones in the background, while darkening selected areas around the body
This is the process I typically use, as you have seen in my previous WIP posts. There is the base coat, initial layer, and additional layers until complete. Evaluation occurs over a period of several days for small paintings and often a month or longer for larger works.
Whenever I paint a dog, I can almost hear the faint meow of a cat. It’s been said … behind every wide-eyed fluffy dog is a couch-cuddling sleeping cat –
or maybe two??


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Swatch Dog

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Sold~ Commissioned Painting
11x14 Oil on Canvas
Click Image to Enlarge
This cute little dog is my latest commissioned painting. I received approval from the client last week. It will be given as a gift to the owners of Maggie, a tiny Yorkshire Terrier, who is also a service dog.  She takes her job of making hospitalized patients smile… very seriously! She even made me smile, the entire time I painted her.
Before starting, my client and I discussed the painting size, orientation, and background colors. Due to Maggie’s small size in real life, we opted for an 11x14 vertical format, rather than a larger canvas.
One of our challenges was the reference photographs. They were cell phone files which showed great color, but lacked detail when enlarged. But since this is a surprise for the owners, asking for additional pictures from them was not an option. So, you use what you have and give it a try!

This was our selection. We liked her facial expression and sitting position.
( pixel dimensions 480x640)

The background colors were matched to fabric swatches from the client’s home.
When painting someone’s pet, I try to capture that animal’s colors and characteristics with a close resemblance. Owners look for those subtle details that define their special personalities. Additionally, the background colors are essential to the overall appeal of this painting. They effectively coordinate Maggie to her home environment. (I hope the owners like it!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Caribbean Sidewalk Talk

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8x10 Oil on panel
Original & Prints available

Here’s another painting inspired by roaming the sidewalks of Grand Cayman. I loved the way the morning light hit the side of this building and created strong shadows. I altered the actual paint colors, with the intention of making it appear even brighter.

The island is surrounded by crystal clear water and miles of wide open beaches. It is a popular destination for scuba divers, due to the visibility of the coral reef and its creatures. But unless you’re an artist, observing street views and local home sites will most likely be very low on your list of things to do...
If you are interested in the marine life and are unable to scuba dive, there are galleries where you can view incredible underwater photography. You can also take chartered boat tours and enjoy snorkeling with harmless stingrays in knee deep water.

My favorite art gallery was the Guy Harvey Gallery & Shoppe. It is located in Georgetown, right off the main street and faces the ocean. If you get a chance, go and check it out. The detailed paintings of Guy’s fish are simply amazing! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

True Tropical Colors

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8x10 Oil on Panel
Original & Prints Available

I’ll go back a bit and show you some of my tropical paintings, since I don’t currently have any others of the southwest.

This is a painting of a house I saw while walking the south side of Grand Cayman several years ago. I got the idea for doing a series with palm trees and architecture, shortly after returning home. The cottages are so bright and colorful. I doubt they had any paint color restrictions, like our neighborhoods do here. I also enjoyed seeing the vegetation and the stone walls that had shells imbedded in the cement. Most residents use conch shells to decorate their front yards and fences. (So cool!)

I am always fascinated by artwork that has great use of color.  When you look at subjects literally like I do, it is often hard to be creative… and I’m working on that J.  But these structures required little thought beyond what was actually there.