Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Bird in Hand

Silverpoint heightened with white

Let's see, the last two posts have been about critters and hands. This image seems to be a good way to tie those together and then maybe move on to something else. This was actually based on a stock photo by the lovely Longstock that I just couldn't resist. For more of her stock work take a look here. link

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I used to do a lot of pen and ink drawings. For some reason I got away from it. I may have to take another look at in drawings because I really like the look. These are some of the things I did, again older work until the new camera comes.

Sorry, not a really good picture of this, but it will have to do for the time being.

Every year the World Bird Sanctuary would invite their members out for a photography day. They'd place their birds in a more natural setting than the usual perch. It was a good time and you could get some pretty good pictures. They had this little guy sitting in the crook of the tree, and people were having a terrible time just finding the bird. It almost always had to be pointed out.

We seem to be lousy with raccoons around here. There's a family down the block that thought they were so cute. So they started feeding them. Well, that's fine except they don't stay down there. Just about every night they come up here and raid the bird feeders. Again, I can deal with that, just don't put out much seed before dark. Well, one night I look out the sliding door in the kitchen and my cat starts slowly backing away. That was strange because she usually ran around the house like crazy when she had a raccoon visitor. So I looked a little closer and saw that there was a family of five out there.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hand Studies

Many people find hands to be the most difficult part of the human form to draw, and I'll agree they can be. Unfortunately they are also one of the most expressive parts of the body too, so learning to draw them is pretty much a necessity. So what tips do I have for drawing them? None at all other than practice, practice, practice. Sorry no real words of wisdom here, but I'm open to suggestions. That being said I do take my own advice, and I do a lot of hand studies. The following examples are all kind of old now. (My camera bought the farm and the scanner isn't much better, so for the next few weeks there will either be older things or nothing at all.)

pencil heightened white white chalk

This is the oldest one of the bunch. Hopefully these will show some improve with time. It is a study for a larger piece that I never got around to doing. Maybe someday, but until now the hands are all that exist.

pencil heightened with white chalk

Another study for a larger oil, this one was done. This study is actually a good example of why it is good to do studies. Not only do you work out any potential problems before the actual final work begins, but you may wind up with a nice piece in itself. People love to see the process leading up to the final work. In this case the study was bought by a violin teacher. Apparently my model has perfect technique, and the teacher wanted to use this as an example of what should be done. Really more of a compliment to my model who is a wonderful violist than to me, but I did wind up with two sales instead of one.

silverpoint heightened with white chalk

You might remember a similar piece back in the beginning of this blog. This one, like that one, is really more of a stand alone piece. It was never meant to grow up into something bigger. Just a practice piece that works pretty well all by itself.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dogwood Blossoms

15 x 22

Before the winter sets in I thought I'd post a spring icon, a branch of dogwood blossoms.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Snow Storm

22 x 30

Geologically speaking Missouri is two different areas separated by the Missouri River. As I understand it the glaciers only got as far south as what is now the Missouri River valley so the north of the state is considerably flatter than the south which is dominated by the Ozark mountains. The Ozarks are a very old mountain range and by mountainous standards they're really not much more than hills in this age. They are quite beautiful though, and they are home. They are also dotted with a variety of springs, most of which have, or at least had a mill associated with them. That brings us to the subject of this post, Alley Springs. I've found out recently that this is the most photographed mill in the state. Far be it from me to not paint a cliche. In my defense it's usually photographed from the other side where the millpond usually provides a mirror-like reflection. All right, I admit it, I've done it from that side too, and probably will again. In an attempt to be a little different here is a view of the front side of the mill during an early winter snowstorm. Not as picturesque perhaps, but it does have a quality to it that I rather like.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quiet Times

8 x 6

I may have mentioned this before, but it's worth saying again, I love silverpoint. It's perfect for the small, intimate works that I enjoy doing. It holds detail well, doesn't smear like a normal graphite pencil and gets better with age. I think this one is pretty successful.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Autumn Forest

Oil on Canvas
25 x 18

As usual I'm not really too sure what to say to say about this. I absolutely love the autumn around here, but I also love the spring, summer and winter. Each season has its good points. When the leaves turn there is a tendency to grab all your pretty colors and just start throwing color around. That will lead to what my uncle called calendar art. You know, the garish things with the cranked up chromas that wind up on calendars. For that reason I often shy away from the classic red tree and sunsets too for that matter. But occasionally one slips through. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right? Well this one slipped through, but it's really not about the bright fall colors. It's about the way the light falls on the tree stump. That's my story, I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Study for Autumn Forest

Oil on Panel
12 x 9

I look at the calendar and it's been over two months since I last posted anything. Where did the summer go? Well, I'm still alive and kicking, just a little lazy when it comes to taking pictures of pictures. I'd planned on waiting until the fall to post this due to subject matter, but I really need to get into the habit of putting new work up more often. So, here you go, a little painting of a fall forest's edge. Nothing really special, but not too bad either. As a teaser, it's more of a study for a bigger painting yet to come, hopefully in the not too distant future. Wait for it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yellow Rose

7 x 14
Oil on Canvas

I've posted a lot of people lately so maybe it's time for a change. Here's a little rose still life. I actually did this a year or two ago and just recently reworked it. The flower just wasn't right, it looked a bit on the wooden side. I hope you'll agree it's better now. This one went through a lot of changes to get to this point. At first it was a very light, airy piece with a tile wall for a background, but that didn't quite work. So I thought, maybe more dramatic lighting. No good at all. Then one night I was sitting around and noticed all the brick surrounding the fireplace. Maybe the contrast of textures along with the stronger lighting would work. I think it worked pretty well. The strip on the bottom isn't working though so maybe it's not as done as I thought. I think I need to lighten it or maybe take it out completely.

I've been looking at some of my older things that are still laying around. Things I thought were pretty good at the time, well, not so much now. There may be quite a bit of reworking going on around here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Portrait in Oil

oil on canvas
10 x 8

One last portrait to show, this time in oil. This one is more dramatic than most of my work, but I think it works. I wanted a kind of "in your face" look this time. I also wanted to see how far I could push the values and chroma before it went off the deep end.

I've posted some pencil portraits recently so I think another one isn't really necessary. In these last few posts I've tried to show my range in portrait mediums and styles. I hope you get the idea of what I try to capture. Oh, did I mention I take commissions?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shawl and Rose

16 x 9

In keeping with the portrait theme here's a one in watercolor. Most of my portraits are in either oil or some drawing medium, but I can do them in watercolor too.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Crown of Flowers

10 x 8

I thought I would post of series of portraits over the next few days. If you like them, I am available for commissions if you feel so inclined. This one is silverpoint which I really like especially for more delicate pieces like this. It's great for smaller, more intimate drawings. It allows for a great amount of detail in a small space if the subject calls for it, and it gets better with age as the silver tarnishes.

I will also be showing watercolor, oil and maybe a pencil over the next few days.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


12 x 9

It occurred to me that the last two posts were of the same model. She's really quite a beautiful young woman, but you can't really tell that from the previous posts. So here's one where you can see her a bit better. I don't consider this to be one of my better pieces, but it's not too bad and it is a decent likeness.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Storm at Sea

Oil on panel
16 x 12

I have no idea what to say about this picture. I had considered saying something about the start of hurricane season, but that doesn't really have much effect on us around here. Then I thought maybe I could tell you about my love affair with the sea, but that's boring besides given the choice between going to the ocean or the mountains, I'd choose the mountains every time. Doesn't sound like much of a love affair. I never really cared for the pictures of waves breaking on the rocky beach either. So what's left?

Hopefully this will stand on its own. It's definitely a story telling picture. You supply your own story.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Pink Hat

21 x 14

Finished this one about a month ago, maybe a bit more, and never got around to adding it here. So here it is. A nice airy, summery painting.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Autumn Hillsides

Oil on Canvas
12 x 24

This is a very simple scene, but I really liked it. The contrast of the sunlit hill receding into the distance next to the nearer hill in shadow was very appealing to me. Add the light strip of the field in the foreground and the creamy clouds, and it really captured my attention. But I think the light branches of the sycamore trees are necessary to make the picture.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

cast drawings

I thought I would post a few of these drawings since I haven't had a chance to photograph anything new. About a year ago I decided to sharpen my drawing skills. So I started doing drawings of Bargue plates. I don't have access to the actual plates, but the book is pretty good. Having said that, none of these are from it. They're all stashed away in sketch books, and getting the paper to lay flat for a photo is just more trouble than it's worth. These drawings are fairly similar though.

This is one of the earlier drawings. The paper was a bit rougher than it should have been. There's just more "noise" than I would have liked. Live and learn right? You may think the nose is kind of funky too. It was actually broken off, so it's not really funky, it's just gone.

The paper problem has been corrected here. I think this one is fairly successful. One of the problems I have with the Bargue plates is the lighting. As I understand it the casts were purposely lit to minimize reflected lights. So you have a light, a dark and a transition tone which, to me, results in a flatter than necessary image. On this one I worked from a photo of the sculpture that I downloaded from the Louvre site. In the Bargue book there is also a plate of this same sculpture. At the risk of dislocating my shoulder while patting myself on the back, I like my version better.

This is just a bigger version of the same kind of drawings, this time in charcoal.

I don't know that anyone would consider these great art, the originals are, but these drawings, not so much. They weren't really meant to be. They were meant to be practice pieces designed to train the hand and eye. Look, see, draw, then check keeping the drawing as close to the image being copied as possible. Once you get good at rendering from two dimensions to two dimensions start doing the same thing except this time work from life, from a three dimensional object, maybe a real cast. Sound boring? Maybe, but if you want to really polish your drawing it works, and if its done right it works pretty fast.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spring Rains

Oil on Canvas
22 x 36

I don't know what it is about me, but I love foggy, rainy days (to a point at least). This is one of them. Hopefully it speaks for itself because I don't have much to say about it right now. I'm finding that talking about my work is the hardest part of this blog stuff.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Winter Church

22 x 30

I was looking through photos trying to find something that might be of interest, and I ran across this one. It's a bit on the old side, but it's not too bad. On to the interesting part.

This was in a show once upon a time. When I have shows I like to kind of blend in and see what people really think. If they know you are the artist you rarely get true feedback. You get the "Oh this is wonderful" stuff whether it is or not. While that may be good for the ego, it really doesn't help all that much. Anyway, I was wandering around and there was this one guy talking to a rather attractive woman in front of this painting. A little eavesdropping seemed to be in order so I started listening to him tell her all about my painting. It seems that this piece is all about life and death and spirituality. The green tree represents life with the dead (actually leafless) tree and cemetery representing death. The church of course is the spiritual part. I don't know if she was buying all this, but I was quite impressed, especially since I had no idea that I had done that. I thought I was just balancing out lights and darks not commenting on life and death.

I guess I'm just a deep kind of guy, deeper than even I knew. Something was sure getting deep that night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Oil on copper
3 x 7

I just noticed that I haven't posted a still life here. That could be because I don't do that many or maybe it's just an oversight. Either way it's time I corrected it. This is a tiny piece, more of an experiment using copper as a support than anything else. Copper is a rather interesting surface, very stable and archival. It's a bit smooth for my taste even after scuffing it up with some emory cloth. As a result the paint really slides around. I've got a couple more pieces to play with, but after that I think I'll stick to canvas, canvas panels or a true gesso panel for the times I need a really smooth surface to work on.

Monday, May 7, 2007



I don't have much to say about this, it's just a little drawing (the full size image is about actual size) of a sleeping figure. I think it came out rather nicely with that warm fuzzy feeling to it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cookie Kitty

Pencil with white chalk on tan Stonehenge paper
10 x 7

Pencil with white chalk on tan Stonehenge paper
10 x 7

The internet can be a wonderful place. You can meet people from all over the world. This particular person is Australian. That's about as far from my home as you can get without leaving the planet, and yet I still consider her a friend. She's also one of my favorite model/photographers. As you can see she can be very expressive making for great material for character studies.

Friday, April 20, 2007


22 x 13

Sorry, I wandered off for a bit. Things got a little hectic, but I think its better now. No matter, back to the art. This is a watercolor that, I think, came out fairly well. Hope you like it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Oil on Canvas
14 x 24

One last view of the wetlands and we'll move on to something else.

Friday, March 16, 2007

More wetlands

Oil on Canvas
24 x 24

More wetlands on a rainy day, actually the same day as the last post just a bit down the road. Many of the farmers around here will flood their bottom land in the fall after harvest to create wetlands for the migrating birds. Before the levies were built the land probably would have flooded anyway, now they are realizing that is not such a bad thing. They drain them again before spring planting, but all winter, late fall and early spring the land reverts to the natural wetlands. Here the river is just to the left and the flooded fields are to the right. Keep your head down during hunting season, there's duck blinds over there.

Wetland Series continued

Oil on Canvas
8.5 x 16.5

When I think of the wetlands this is usually how I picture them in my mind. The sun shines there too, but the foggy, wet days seem to fit them better to me. Maybe it has something to do with duck season, or maybe those are just the kind of days that call me there. The last picture was more of a manufactured wetland, created from a depression and flooded well away from any natural river flooding. It captures the basic spirit, but it's just not quite right. It feels too isolated. This is the real deal. The Illinois River is just a stone's throw away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wetland Series

Oil on Canvas
18 x 31

I mentioned the farmland last time, we also have a lot of rivers. There are the big rivers like the Mississippi and the Missouri, and smaller rivers like the Meramac, Big River, St. Francis and about a dozen others. Along with the rivers come wetlands. Normally you might think of the wetlands as a place only for the migrating ducks and geese, and the wetlands do fill up with birds during migration. Duck hunting is very big around here as you might have guessed. But the wetlands have other purposes too, not the least of which is to provide a buffer during floods.

When the ducks have passed through and the duck blinds are empty the wetlands can be a pretty cool place to wander around in. The ducks and geese give way to the wading birds like herons and egrets. Some of the places where the water is stiller will have water lilies growing in them like this one at the Shaw Nature Reserve.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Flowing Fields

Oil on canvas
13 x 30

There's a lot of farm land around here. At first glance it may appear to be rather boring, relatively flat fields with little else. If you look a bit more closely though, it can be quite beautiful.

This particular scene is just outside of Femme Osage, a very small town with a church, antique store and a couple houses. It sounds like a French name to me but the area was inhabited by German immigrants because it reminded them of the Rhineland. It's also the heart of Missouri wine country. No grape vines on these hills, but there is a quiet beauty here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Story Teller

8 x 8

A post or so ago I mentioned that ink, silverpoint and pencil were my favorite drawing media, so it occurred to me that maybe I should post a pencil drawing. So here's a pencil drawing.

This guy has a great face. It just cried out for a character study to be done. I took a few pictures of him one day while he was telling stories and making arrow heads (he's a flint knapper actually, but I liked the stories). We were sitting under a tree on a nice fall day having a fine time, and it never occurred to me that the bail of hay I was sitting on might be full of ticks. Well, it seems I took a few of them home with me along with the reference photos.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gypsy Dancer 2

Pen & Ink
9.75 x 5

This is the second in the series. I think they make a rather nice pair.

Gyspy Dancer

Pen & Ink
9.75 x 5

I used to do a lot of pen and ink work, but have gotten away from it for some reason. That will have to change. Silverpoint and pencil are great mediums and each has its own beauty, but ink has a quality that neither of them has. Between the three, I don't think I need to look into any other drawing media. Well, maybe charcoal for bigger things, but I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it.

In this, the first of two drawings, I wanted to capture the movement and the attitude of the model. I really need to thank Sophie for being so expressive. This pose and subject seemed to need more power than silverpoint is really suited for. Pencil might have worked, but I wanted the bolder marks that ink gives. I hope it captured it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Oil on canvas
14 x 36

It's another lovely day here in the midwest, cold, windy and snowing. I'm officially tired of winter so I thought I'd drag out a summer scene and maybe warm up these old bones.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hand study in silverpoint

7.5 x 5.25

This seems to be appropriate with Valentine's Day on the way.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Wild Iris

Egg Tempera
10 x 7.5

Here's another of my intimate landscape series. This is from the same day and same place as the previous post, just a little further down the hill.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Intimate Landscapes

Egg Tempera
10 x 10

When you take a walk in the woods it's easy to miss the forest for the trees. But look closely, there are a lot of little things that can be quite fascinating. For years now I've tried to find the beauty in the small things as well as the total landscape. As a result I've come up with a series of what I call "intimate landscapes." Wild flowers are the most obvious example and their quiet beauty among the dead leaves and downed trees deserve some attention.

In a couple months the wild iris will again be blooming. This particular scene is just a small part of an entire hillside that is literally covered with them. It's really pretty hard to walk there without stopping to look, but I've watched people go by without even noticing. Maybe I'm making too much out of it, or maybe I feel it's my job as an artist to open their eyes to what's around them. Either way I'll keep looking. If you like this one, stay tuned, more to come.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Head Study

Silverpoint on blue prepared paper
7 x 5

This blog was subtitled paintings and drawings so I suppose it's time to post a drawing. There's not much to say about this little piece, just a little study in silverpoint. I love that medium, unfortunately it doesn't always translate to the web very well. In real life it has a subtle quality all its own, and as the silver tarnishes it gets even better.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Old Masters and Vermeer

Oil on panel
16 x 14

I don't do as many master copies as I used to, but one slips in now and then. I'm sure you recognize this one as Vermeer's "Woman with a Scale," at least I hope you do.

I've always thought there were three reasons to do an old master copy. One, to learn everything possible about how a particular painting was made. To do this right, you really need to have the piece you're copying right in front of you because photography just doesn't give all the necessary information. This is probably the most worthwhile approach though and should result in the knowledge of how the paint was applied to get a particular effect. You'll get into materials used, mediums maybe, brushstrokes and transparency of layers among other things. Not easy to do right, but if you really want to learn how someone worked it can be worth the trouble.

Two, to practice a particular technique that would work well on the painting to be copied. This technique may or may not have been used in the original. That's closer to what I'm doing here. I tried to stay as close as possible to the original, but having never seen it, there was a lot of guesswork involved. On the other hand I did learn quite a bit about glazing over a monochrome underpainting. So why go to all the trouble of copying a masterpiece when using the technique on a painting of an apple would do just as well? I just liked the image.

Which brings us to number three, you just like the image and want to copy it using whatever materials and techniques you already know and are comfortable with. There's not much to say in favor of this other than if that's what you want to do, go ahead. I must admit there are a lot of paintings out there I would love to have, but I find myself a few million dollars short even if they were for sale. So I could either buy a print or do a copy. Personally, I'd rather have a copy.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Elephant Rocks

Egg Tempera
24 x 35

I struggled with this painting, and I'm not entirely sure I'm done with it. It's turning into one of my bone pictures, pieces that I keep going back to and playing with like an old dog with a bone. Anyway it's a view of another state park, this one featuring these huge granite outcroppings. Everybody climbs around on them and has a fine time. One thing that I always found strange about the place is that puddles form in the little depressions in the rocks . That in itself isn't odd, but every one of these little puddles is filled with tadpoles if you're there at the right time of year. The idea of frogs jumping around on the rocks just seems odd to me.

I love the textures and colors of the rocks. That plus the light filtering down through the trees onto the granite is what drew me to this particular piece.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pickle Creek

15 x 22
For purchase information follow The Art Gallery of Hog Hollow link

It's cold today with a forecast of colder for the rest of the week. So I'm pulling out a nice warm, sunny summer scene to look at today. This is Pickle Creek from a state park / natural area a bit south of here. It's one of my favorite hiking spots and the creek running through it is beautiful.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Spring Storm on the Mississippi

Oil on canvas
20 x 48

This is a painting of one of my favorite places, the bluffs on the Mississippi. The Illinois side of the river has the bluffs so the best place to actually see them is on the Missouri side. The river itself is really best, but I don't have a boat which makes that somewhat problematic. At one time this section between Alton and Grafton was known as Mt. Radiance. Now, the bluffs are maybe 200 feet high. In my book, that doesn't quite qualify as a mountain, but when the sun hits the bluffs it is indeed radiant.

I've done a number of paintings of this part of the river and will probably do more. This time I went for a more dramatic, romantic version with a spring storm just breaking up.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Discovering Dore

Oil on Canvas
27 x 30

I've got to start somewhere so maybe an art blog should start with a picture of someone looking at a picture. I did this one about two years ago. It's a fairly common scene from an art museum, the St. Louis Art Museum in this case. The painting on the wall is by Gustave Dore. He's known mostly for his illustrations, but he was a pretty fair landscape painter too.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Getting started

Now I've done it - I'm a blogger. Let me explain what I plan on doing here. This will primarily be a place where I can show my art, both paintings and drawings, get some more exposure and maybe some feedback. It will also be a place to announce any news concerning what's going on in my art world as well as a place to share any wit and wisdom I have acquired. I'm not all that wise so don't expect much on that front, but you never know. The first few days I will probably be posting a representative assortment of my work. It won't necessarily be my best or my newest, but it should give you an idea about what I do.

Rather than continuing on about what I plan to do, I'm thinking it would be best to just get on with it. That's what we're here for right? So I'll run off for a bit and find something for us to look at.