Sunday, December 20, 2009


18 x 12.5

Well its been three months since my last post. I don't know if I'm more surprised that it's been that long or that it hasn't been longer. Untitled pretty much wraps up the last three months though.

I finished this a few days ago, at least I think it's finished, and I don't have the slightest idea what to title it. That's usually a result of not having a clear idea of what I was trying to do in the first place. Seems to be a lot of that going around these days. "Just do it." Nice bumper sticker but maybe we should give things a little thought before we jump in with both feet. But I don't really want to go down that road today. I'm not really sure what road I want to go down today. See, still untitled.

Anyway, even though this isn't exactly a Christmas image (poor thing would freeze something off wearing that around here today), I hope everyone has a good holiday season. And I'd like to thank everyone that has dropped by, especially those that have taken the time to comment. It really means a lot to me. And a special thanks to all my models (did you recognize Linda from the last silverpoint post?) Where would I be without you?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Winter Day

Silverpoint on a warm light gray toned paper
18 x 14

I may have mislead you. Unlike a politician this was not my intent. I have always said that silverpoint was good for smaller pieces, but couldn't really hold up for something bigger. It just can't produce the dark darks needed to be noticed from across the room. I may have to rethink that. After looking at some of Dennis Martin's work I noticed that many of them are pretty big, much bigger than I had expected. So I took a shot and tried something bigger myself. Now this is not a huge drawing by any means, but it's about twice what I'm used to. It seems to hold up pretty well both near and from across the room, at least the size of my rooms. So bigger may be better.

On the downside it takes forever. The earlier parts had already started to tarnish by the time the last lines were added. I started this back in May or maybe early June and just finished it up a couple weeks ago. I didn't work nonstop on this though. There were quite a few weeks that it didn't get touched at all actually so it's hard to guess exactly how long it really took to finish. It certainly felt like a long time. Then again, it was nice to have something to go back and chew on.

Enough about that. What I was trying to do here was show how nice it is to curl up with a book when the snow in laying on the fields, the warmth of the figure against the cold of the landscape. Besides I loved the light. I hope I got somewhere close to the feel of it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Didn't mean to be gone that long guys, sorry. It's been a long and rather interesting summer. Overall not that great but there were flashes that kept me wanting to see what would happen next. It looks like that the way it will be for a while to come too. At least now I'm used to it. On to the pictures, that's what you're here for.

I've done virtually no painting or drawing at all in the last few months so this had the potential for complete disaster. I'd wanted to do this piece for quite a while, but something always seemed to come up and push this to the back burner. Instead of going right to the finished picture I thought you might like to see a couple of the studies that I do beforehand. There's a lot of stuff done that nobody will ever see, but are nevertheless important to the process. This is where all the drawing issues get worked out. Before I start the final piece I have a pretty good idea of exactly where I'm going.

pencil heightened with white
22 x 15

So here's the final drawing of the figure. If it wasn't right there would be no reason to go any further so it was pretty obvious that I needed to spend as much time here as necessary. Besides I like to draw, this was the fun part.

15 x 11

So now that I've got a figure I need to put her in a landscape or some kind of environment. An excuse to go for a walk in the woods, most excellent. Not the best watercolor I've ever done, but it serves the purpose. She should fit in there nicely. It's really best compositionally to do this all at once working with basically abstract shapes and then adapting the shapes to figure and surroundings. Sometimes you get lucky though and this way will work out all right. Let's put it together and see what I've got.

30 x 22

This is what I thought would be the final piece. I'm not so sure though so this could turn out to be another study. There's some good points but I think there are parts that I could and should do better. And this is why it is best compositionally to work on the whole piece at once instead of putting together pieces. On this particular painting there is no deadline and no one is dying to see it (as far as I know) so why not keep going and do it right.

22 x 15ish

This is a detail of the previous piece and makes a pretty good image on its own. Right now I'm leaning toward cropping it down and salvaging this part and later going back and repainting the whole piece, maybe an oil next time.

Edit: I've switched out the last two images with ones that are closer to actual in color at least. Images seem to come out about a step lighter here than anywhere else. Anybody else have that problem?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Intimate Landscape - Bloodrooot

Oil on Panel
12 x 13

I thought I'd already put this up, but here it sits in draft form. Yet another oversight on my part, easily corrected.

This is another of my intimate landscapes. Every so often I like to just pick a small bit of land or streambed and see if I can bring it to life. That's pretty much what I up to here with a delicate little bloodroot flower. These are about the first of the spring wildflowers. When they start blooming winter is officially over for me.

I think I'm caught up now. Everything that's worth looking at is now posted. Wonder what I'll do next.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sheltered Cove

Oil on Panel
16 x 12

Once again I find I don't have much to say about this. Another foggy day, more water, some foreground rocks. All together I think it works fairly well though.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


11 x 8

After those last two let's cleanse the room with something a bit better. Not much to say about this. I'm thinking about cropping a little bit off the top, but that will wait until framing time, assuming I frame it at all. All for today, not feeling very talkative. I just wanted to put something half way decent up for you to see.

Changed my mind, I do have something to say here. This is actually a second version. The first wasn't that bad with one exception. I wasn't all that satisfied with the face. Considering that's the center of interest, that's really not such a small problem. But it just needed a little change so maybe I could fix it. I've said that erasing is iffy at best with silverpoint. In this case iffy turned out to be no way, won't come off. Well, it is a gouache ground so maybe I could just reground it, gouache is opaque right? Yeah, not so much here, and the toned ground proved to be impossible to match. One last try, sandpaper. Sand off that spot and do here again. Yeah good idea. This is a second version for a reason. Things just went from bad to worse to the point that the only way to save it was to start from scratch, totally new version. Should have done that to start with. The moral is with silverpoint, just don't screw up. Know what you're going to do and do it right.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Close But No Cigar

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I seem to do a lot of things that fall just short of what I'm trying to do. Today's post will be devoted to a couple of those so maybe I can put them behind me, and move on to something with more potential. Realistically I know I'll keep playing with them until they're either right or screwed up beyond all possibility of fixing. Maybe you'll have a suggestion or maybe you'll convince me that they aren't as bad as I think or maybe I'm talking to myself and this will just be a catharthic experience.

Oil on Canvas
18 x 30

Something's just not quite right. The middle building in particular is bothering me. I think it needs to be pushed back some which sounds easy enough, but in practice is proving a bit more difficult. The brick silo isn't really working with the dull red barn either. Okay, fix those things and problem solved right? We'll see.

When I first saw this barn all the paint had been scraped off and it was a lovely silvery gray like, well, barnwood. When a got back a day or two later it was already painted with a coat of primer that was this dull red. It still had a charm to it, but it wasn't the same feel. Now it's got it's final coat of bright red, and it's turned into the red barn cliche. I'm sure the farmer likes the new paint job much better, and I'll admit it is a good looking farm, but something's just gone from it. It seems to have lost it's character. Maybe that says something about me.

Night Calls a Woman
Oil on Panel
18 x 12

A couple years ago I was watching something on TV, Austin City Limits I think, and there was this band (forget the name, sorry) playing this song that kept repeating this phrase, "night calls a woman." It stuck with me, and just would not go away. So to free my mind of this one musical phrase I did this. Nocturns seem to be quite a bit more difficult than I had imagined. This is the second, maybe third, version, and it's still not quite right. The good news is, I seem to be getting closer. On the other hand that phrase still hasn't completely left my head.

So there it is. This may be a first for me. I never let anyone see anything before it's done and ready for public consumption. In my world it's either right or wrong, and if it's wrong then fix it or start over. Next time I'll find something better to post.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Back Studies

oil on canvas
10 x 8

oil on canvas
10 x 8

Just a couple quick little studies today. I always seem to end up with little odds and ends of canvas off the roll. Being incredibly cheap (I prefer to think of it as thrifty) I always keep them around and eventually get them used up. That's the case here, just bits and pieces of leftovers put to use. I haven't even bothered to stretch them. If nobody wants them they may never get stretched, but that wasn't the point though. The object was practice. If they happen to turn out half-way decent so much the better. Any thoughts, anybody want to give them a home?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quiet on the River

Oil on panel
11 x 17

This wasn't what I was planning on posting today, but the more I looked at the other painting the more I thought, nope, I can do it better. There are things to fix. So that's what I'll be doing the rest of the day - making small corrections on a variety of pieces that aren't bad, but not quite right. I seem to do that a lot, fiddle with things until they're absolutely perfect or screwed up beyond all hope. Never really gotten anything perfect though, but the day's still young.

This little piece was done specifically to fit a frame I've had laying around for several years now. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. In spite of that I think it came out pretty well, and it does suit the frame. There was a very limited palette used on this, just milori blue (like prussian, but supposed to be more lightfast) venetian red, yellow ochre and lead white. There was no challenge to myself or anything like that, it just turned out to be all the colors I needed. On that note there is a lot to be said for using a limited palette. Harmonious color is almost assured, and you find that you really don't need every single color ever made. The old masters used very few pigments, and they got along pretty well. I remember one of my teachers once saying that with all the colors available these days there should be some pretty good painting going on. I'm not really seeing that. Maybe we suffer from an embarrassment of riches.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ground Fog

Oil on Panel
5.5 x 12

I've got to tell you I like fog. No idea why but I do. Not constantly you understand, but now and then. When I first moved out here, before the building spree, this is pretty much the way it looked most mornings. It would burn off fairly quickly so it wouldn't be depressing all day. Now fog is more uncommon and to see fog rising from the fields like this I need to go out a few more miles into the farmland. I think I like the subtlety of the colors and the quiet that usually comes with it. That's what I was going for here anyway. Welcome to my world.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Black Fan

In keeping with yesterday's ramble about paying attention to all the elements in a piece I though this may be of interest. It's a little older too so maybe you can use it to gauge my progress or lack of progress. First let me say this is not the way to put a picture together. Don't try this at home.

Another little silverpoint as you may have guessed. A decent drawing, the forearm and hand seem nice and solid. Overall though, nothing to write home about. It's certainly on the blah side. So it sat around for a while until I decided maybe I could still pull it off.

That's a little better with just the addition of a vertical element and a horizontal. Now there's a little stability to the image, but still not right. Too much of that so what feeling. It needs some depth.

Now that's not so bad, not my best, but much better than the original version. There's some solidity to the composition, some depth. The lights and darks are balanced out all right. (The image is about a half step too dark here, sorry.) It's more than a figure just plopped down in the middle of the page. Not that that can't be pulled off, I just didn't originally do it here.

One other vaguely interesting thing here is that since it was done over a period of about eight months the earliest parts of the drawing had started to tarnish already. I don't think you can really see it here, you can just barely see it in person. From across the room it really isn't apparent, but up close the figure and to a lesser extent the horizontal ledge is much warmer than the distant landscape. That will even out soon enough, but it was nice to see the change. Normally the change is so slow and subtle even I don't notice it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flowing Lines

12 x 9

Let's try this again. Personally I think this is pretty good. Keep in mind that I seem to be a bad judge of my work, and my taste in general may be suspect given today's standards. I'll keep doing what I do in spite of all the outside influences though. Isn't that a definition of insanity? Then again if I am crazy do I really care? These thoughts are way too deep for a Friday, especially on Derby weekend.

I seem to be getting a lot of similar images, women with a lot of drapery. Too many? Is that a bad thing? Is there more to say? I like drapery mainly because of the way light falls on it. In this there is the added interest in the transparency. The figures are almost incidental. My main interest is still the light.

But there's more to it though, isn't there? So many elements to work with in a drawing, and with painting there's the added element of color. To make an image really work you need to consider all the parts -- value, line, composition, color. How you group the elements can vary. For instance, I think light comes under the heading of value. But value could just as easily be thought of as part of composition. The point is everything is important to creating a meaningful whole. In this silverpoint I wanted to project a soft, delicate, intimate image. Therefore I kept the value range from being too dark while keeping the figure on the light side. The lines flow rather than being short and jumpy giving a more peaceful feel. I tried to put in enough detail to project an intimacy without being overly picky. Hopefully everything came together.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. What have I been doing to make time go so fast? Well, I'm back, didn't die or anything serious like that.

12 x 12

Another silverpoint for today's offering. First let me thank the lovely Elandria for being such a wonderful model and providing me with some beautiful reference shots to work from. Lanny, you're the best. (Don't tell the other models I said that.) Yes, I work from photos, I'm no purist. I'm also really slow, especially with silverpoint.

I don't really have anything to say about this today. Maybe I could go into the use of photos as reference or talk about my speed or the lack thereof, but I think I'll save those for another day when my thoughts are, well, more thought out. The drawing alone will have to do for today. I'm fresh out of wisdom. Here's a little detail too. Click on it to see what it looks like in actual size.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good Weather Coming?

Oil on Panel
8.5 x 10.5

Spring is finally here. Flowers are coming up, trees are blooming, I'm getting itchy to go and paint out in the fresh air. My pochade box is all ready to go. Did I mention it's really cold, raining and snow is expected this afternoon and tonight? Well I've got basketball to watch today anyway.

If anybody else finds themselves stuck indoors today I just finished a book that may be of interest, The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber. It's one of those rot your brain fiction books, but it's pretty good. I saw a lot of me in it which is really rather disturbing considering the main character has a tenuous hold on reality. Basically it's about a truly talented artist (that's not the part that reminds me of me) that finds himself cranking out advertising junk when he is approached to take part in a clinical study on creativity. In the process he has a bit of a break with reality and becomes Velasquez where he forges a piece similar to the Rokeby Venus, or did he just imagine it?. It gets into questions of perceived realities and asks some pretty good questions about the art world and art itself. Anyway, I liked it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

River Access

Oil on canvas
18 x 36

This is an older piece that I have never been able to photograph adequately. Well, this is about as good as it's going to get. The problem now is that I think I've improved a bit in the interim, and I really think I could do this better. I like the spot and the overall feel so maybe I that's a good reason to do it again.

A couple things came together in the last few weeks, and I thought they might be of interest. First I was asked to provide an artist's statement by two different places. Personally, I've never cared much for artist's statements simply because I've always felt that if the artist has to explain what he or she is doing it isn't being done very well. Perhaps I'm just a simple soul or just not evolved enough. So what am I trying to do with these things? The answer seems simple enough. I'm trying to take the viewer to a place in time and space where a feeling, emotion or thought will be evoked. To touch the viewer in some way; I always thought that was the object of art. I could be wrong about that. Again, I'm just a simple soul.

The second thing was a post on the Gurney Journey about filling in. link Strangely enough "filling in" refers to just what I am aiming to do, allow the viewer to enter a painting, and wander around and feel something. I had no idea there was an actual term for this. It was pointed out that this can lead to sentimentality. Yeah, I suppose so, but as long as the sentiment is real and not taken to the point of sappiness is that really such a bad thing?

So to come full circle and mention this particular painting, (it's not that bad after all, is it?) I'm hoping you'll want to get in a boat and see what's around the bend. Maybe see what's on the far shore or pick up a fishing pole and try your luck. How'd I do?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Summer's End

22 x 15

I know this isn't exactly what you would call timely considering it's closer to the end of winter, but maybe it's just what we need to shake off the cold. Perhaps I'm ahead of my time or lost in the past or just totally screwed up.

This is the first watercolor I've done in a while so there was potential for disaster. A lot of watercolor depends on "feel" that comes from doing. Is the paper wet enough, dry enough? It's real easy to lose that feel so I was pleasantly surprised at this outcome. It's also a composite of a landscape reference with a model reference. Around here when you see a log like that, you can be pretty sure there will be turtles laying on it catching some sun. Personally, I think this is much better.

Here's a detail of the figure for anyone interested in details. It's about actual size, maybe a touch smaller.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Moonlit Dreams

7 1/2 x 12

I don't know exactly which way to go with this post, but I do want to put something up today so I think I'll just offer this drawing without comment. There's some good things about it that I like, and as always, there are some things that could be better. You decide which is which today. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Monday, February 9, 2009

River Bank

First off I'd like to announce the opening of Show Me Handmade. I've added a link over in my other pages section that has all the information of location, store hours and what kind of things they have including some of my work. The grand opening is scheduled for March 7, but they're already open so if you're in the neighborhood drop in. There's a variety of art related stores there in the mall that are or will soon be opening. That takes care of the business for today. On to what you're here for.

Oil on Canvas
18 x 30

I may be sorry I posted this one. It's one of those that I can't quite decide if I like or not. There are some things that aren't too bad, but overall something, like a reason to be looking at it, just seems to be missing. I had thought about putting a figure on the bank either walking into the scene or looking out over the river, but neither of those worked too well. Then I thought about flashing a tree with some bright early fall color, but that stuck out too much. So I muted that tree some and that's where we are now. What do you think, yes or no?

Since I don't quite know what to say regarding this let's talk about something related to this piece. Around here there is an activity practiced by a few called sandbar archeology. Rivers rise and rivers fall. When they go down all kinds of things are revealed. Most of it is junk of course, but some is quite old dating back to Lewis and Clark and beyond. In most cases of archeology if you find something it should really be left in place and reported just in case there is some real historic significance. On the river though if you find it, it's yours simply because there's no telling where it washed down from. In this picture the river is low. That "beach" is usually under a couple feet of water. If you're wondering, I didn't find a thing. You usually don't. That just makes the occasional find that much better.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Silverpoint on off white prepared paper
12 x 10

I haven't put up a silverpoint in a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing any. There's actually a backlog to get out, so if you like silver keep looking in, they're coming. Come to think of it there's a lot of things to be posted. I'm not really a big fan of talking about my work. In a business where promotion (primarily self promotion) is important that presents a bit of a problem. Something else to work on.

One thing about having all these silverpoints sitting around is that I've had a chance to look at them in a variety of lighting situations. I wasn't feeling too well a couple weeks ago so I got lazy and just laid around in bed. As the sun crossed the sky the difference in lighting really affected the drawings. That's not all that unusual, I've noticed the same thing in oil paintings that have a lot of glazing on them, but this difference was enough to be remarkable. I suppose it was a matter of reflection or glare because the majority of change took place in the darker range of values. As you probably know silverpoint lines aren't terribly dark. I'd say it's comparable to a 2H pencil depending on the ground used. However I find that to be dark enough for most images, and it turns out that in the right lighting conditions that can be pretty dark especially if it's just used as an accent. It's certainly dark enough to make an image pop. At any rate I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by some of the recent pieces. Considering that I usually am not all that satisfied with my work, it makes a fella think. Maybe I'm just mellowing in my old age.

On one of the forums I look in on somebody mentioned that she couldn't see any lines on the drawing I posted, just smooth tones. Well there are lines there, a bunch of them, trust me. Here's a couple details that are roughly life size to show the level of finish. Maybe someone will find them interesting.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Early Morning Tree

Oil on canvas
16 x 12

No mythology, mysticism or any other m-words today, just a picture of a tree. This time its early morning, the sun is just rising and the ground fog is burning off. That's actually one of my favorite times of day, if only it didn't come so early. Well, you can't have everything. I'm not really sure what to say about this painting. It's not earth shattering in composition, color, paint handling or anything else for that matter, but it does do what I wanted it to do. It gives that feeling of the early morning quite when the world is just waking up. At least I think it does. One comment I should make is that, on my screen at least, it's coming out a half step lighter and higher in chroma than in real life. The coloring is really pretty subtle. One of these days I'll figure out the differences between all these picture programs.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lone Oak

Oil on Canvas
12 x 16

I used to think a tree was just a tree. Then I grew older and possibly wiser, and found that trees were much more. At one time I was real big into bonsai trees. I still am but not to the same extent. There's a distinctly romantic component to bonsai. One tree is supposed to represent all of nature. Ideally it will take you away to a place.

Many bonsai artists also begin to dig into some of the folklore regarding trees. Let's take a brief look at the oak. The oak was considered the cosmic storehouse of wisdom by the ancient Celts due to its growth and expanse, and was honored for its endurance and noble presence. The wearing of oak leaves was a symbol of honor in several cultures such as the Greeks and Romans and is even continued on today in military medals (oak leaf clusters in lieu of duplicate medals). Sometimes the name druid is traced back to the Celtic term for the oak, duir. The usual translation for duir is door though. According to lore the spiritual Celts would "access the ethereal planes of higher thought" (visions and such) by "opening the oak door." Further merit was given the oak as a consequence of it's apparent ability to attract lightning. Personally I'm not so sure I would consider this a plus especially if I were a tree, but then I'm not a druid. The oak is said to represent "all that is true, wholesome, stable and noble." So if you're having a rough day picture the oak and draw into its strength.

Not much about art today I'm afraid, but maybe this was interesting anyway. So what do you think of all this? Does this painting give you any of those feelings? Nobility and strength cutting through the mist maybe. If it doesn't I guess I screwed up or maybe sometimes a tree is just a tree.

If you're interested in the symbolism of trees and other assorted things you might want to drop by

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Oil on Panel
5.5 x 12

Let's get back to some of these little landscapes I mentioned a while back. I've tried to stay away from the pretty, calendar art landscapes in my work, but I find that the last three I've done are just that, two sunsets and now a sunrise. This is the flashiest of the bunch, and as such it almost makes me cringe. Well, if the Hudson River painters could do it, I guess I can too, at least I can try and see how well they are received.

I thought I had more to say about this, but I can't think of what it would be. So there you go, first post of the year.