Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dry Stream Bed

Oil on Panel
14 x 12

I refuse to let autumn come to an end just yet. This is from one of my favorite hiking spots. The stream bed itself is about at the half way mark 2 1/2 miles in. With the exception of a couple little puddles I've never seen any water in it. That's not entirely bad, it's still a really pretty and quiet spot. But, I think it was last spring, I was there and there was water running in it, not much but still enough to be called a stream again. With all the rocks, getting across with dry feet was no problem. Since it was a different look I thought I'd stay for a while and look around. After a few minutes some more people came strolling by. Apparently they'd never seen water before because it took a good five minutes of planning to cross this little trickle. Dude, there's plenty of good solid rocks to step on, and worst case it's only two inches deep at most.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Split Rail

6 1/2 x 5 3/4

I wasn't totally happy with the painting I was planning on posting today. I like the actual painting fine, but the picture doesn't do it justice. Just as I was about to bite the bullet and post it anyway I found this little watercolor that has slipped through the cracks for quite a while now. New plan.

This is an older piece, but it still holds up pretty well. I'm older after all, and I still haven't reached my expiration date just yet. Besides it fits into the whole seasonal thing. We haven't really had much fall color this year, the weather didn't completely cooperate. Just have to make do, and get ready for winter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Over the Horizon

Silverpoint heightened with white gouache
14 x 11

Is there room in the world for another picture of a woman looking at some unseen thing? Hope so.

I'd meant to put this up a couple weeks ago, but something just didn't feel right. It seems I'd forgotten the cast shadow. Who was it that lost his shadow, Peter Pan? Wendy had to sew it back on for him. I guess I've sewed her shadow back on now so it's ready to be seen. Strangely enough that's about all I have to say about it. Hope that enough.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lifting Fog

Where is the time going? I didn't mean to skip two weeks without a post. I've got plenty of things to show but something always seems to come up. On the up side this piece hadn't been started two weeks ago so you get something brand new.

I'm going to show you something a bit different today, a plein air piece.

Oil on panel
6 x 12

I don't usually show these for two reasons. First I don't do very many so there just aren't many to see. Second they're not very good. I have a lot of trouble getting comfortable painting outside. I like it, I just can't get used to it. I really need to do more though, and I plan to continue at an increased rate. We'll see how those plans work out. There might be a third reason too. These little on location pieces aren't meant as an end in themselves usually. They're mainly just quick sketches that will grow up into something bigger and hopefully much better.

On to this particular piece. I got up early one day and headed out to the wetlands. As it turned out it was a really foggy day which I personally think is a great thing. By the time I got there the fog was already lifting, not too much of it left. It really didn't seem to be hanging over the wetlands too much to start with surprisingly enough. But the atmosphere was still pretty soft early on. To make things even better wildflowers were blooming all along the shorelines. So I set up real quick, painted as fast as possible and by the time I was done the fog had been replace by a clear blue sky. You can decide how well I captured the moment. My question was, did I have enough information to do a more finished studio piece? Well let's see.

Oil on canvas
9 x 18

Personally I think this worked out fairly well. There seems to be that early morning fog with the sun just burning through. The wildflowers make a nice focal point in the midgrounds and the water leads the eye into the space. I think I like it, should frame up nicely.

I really would like to do more plein air painting especially more detailed, studied out pieces. Yeah, that's a must do.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My 100th Post

Blogger informs me that this is my 100th post. Seems a bit of a milestone, modest by some standards but still. I should have some kind of big important thing today in honor of it, but I got nothing. So we'll just consider it business as usual.

Silverpoint heightened with white gouache

Not only do I not have anything planned for today's momentous posting, I don't even have a title for this piece. Suggestions are welcome. I still think it came out pretty good. Originally I had planned to just do a vignette, but as is usually the case, it just kept growing outward. I rather like the pose and can see it growing up into something bigger. Don't hold your breath on that one though.

I see a lot of these drawings growing up and so far very, very few have. I seem to draw a line between preparatory drawings and finished drawings. It all has to do with the original intent apparently. Some of the prep drawings could easily stand on their own, but they usually get stuffed away. Most of the finished drawings could be carried further into paint and color, but the original thought said drawing is as far as they should go. No good reasoning behind it really.

I'm rambling today. Nothing much to say. Just wanted to put something up for y'all to look at.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Enough drawing for a while. Never thought I'd say that since I actually prefer drawing, but it just seems like time for some color. Watercolor in this case. Since there were no watercolor portraits last week that strikes me as a good choice.

14 x 18

What I wanted to do in this was show that early morning light and the calmness that goes with sun up. I love that time of day when the world is just waking up. Too bad it comes so early. There's usually a beautiful calm golden light, not as harsh as later in the day. Add a little bit of ground fog, and I'm ready to go.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Pile of Portraits

Let's look at a few more drawings this week. Instead of full figures maybe some portraits for a change. And just to mix it up, how about a variety of media. I may use all the labels today.

Why do I use different media? Sometimes it's a matter of size. Silverpoint is good for smaller things, charcoal works better bigger, in my case at least, and pencil works for everything. Sometimes it's just a matter of, "I haven't done one of those in a while." Perhaps not the best of reasons, but it's all I got.

Pencil on Stonehenge paper

Charcoal heightened with white chalk

Silverpoint heightened with white gouache

This is me after all. There has to be a silverpoint drawing.

And for those who are wondering if I have forgotten how to paint.

Oil on canvas
16 x 12

I had a tough time photographing this one. Hope I got the correct picture.

As it turns out these are actually pretty good likenesses. You might recognize a couple of the models. The last is Elandria. She's been here at least twice before. And the first is Jessica who you might recognize from some earlier portrait studies. Thanks to all my lovely models.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Studies in Charcoal

Last time I mentioned that large figure studies in pencil may not be the best idea. Pencil works fine, but it just takes a while on a larger scale. That's why charcoal is used so often. You can lay down larger areas of tone much quicker, and it's relatively easy to model 3-dimensional objects.

Personally, I have a love hate relationship with charcoal. Love the look, hate working with it. For some reason I've just never gotten comfortable with charcoal, but I'm still trying to get there. So here's a couple of my more recent attempts. All in all I think they came out fairly well. It just seemed like it was more of a struggle than it should have been.

I'm experimenting with papers for charcoal too. This is a full sheet of the Strathmore 500 series. It's not a bad paper at all. I've used it on and off for quite some time and really have no complaints. It's a pretty good all purpose drawing paper.

This was done on a piece of Hahnemuhle Bugra. I've been wanting to try this paper for a while, and finally got around to getting some. First off the sheets are about twice the size of the Strathmore. If you want to do some big work that's a good thing. For me and the room I have available to work, that's really too big. Nothing says I can't cut it in half though, so I did. It's marketed as having a rough side and a smoother side like Canson Mi-tienes. And while that may be true, both sides are much toothier than that the Canson. Not necessarily a bad thing but something to be aware of. For me the biggest thing was the softness of the surface as compared to the Strathmore paper. It takes charcoal and pencil quite well, but it's real easy to scuff up the surface. So be a little gentle and keep erasing to a minimum. Actually that's probably a good idea regardless of the paper you're using.

Monday, August 9, 2010

He's Baaaaaack

He's back. What's happening? Has hell frozen over, is it a cold day in July? That can't be it, it's pushing 100 and besides it's August. Maybe I just finally got around to taking some pictures, and it just seems like a good idea to start up again. So here goes.

Ever wonder what goes on during these long breaks? What's that, you don't. Just as well since nothing exciting has been happening. So let's come at this from a different direction.

I operate on the assumption that one can never draw too well. Since I'm nowhere close to drawing too well and actually testing that assumption, I draw a lot. I do quick sketches that no one will ever see and a fair number of pretty highly finished studies. Let's start off this rebirth with some figure drawing.

Why draw figures? Why not? When it comes to drawing practice anything will do, the important thing is to do it and observe and record carefully. If you draw a tree or a pile of fabric you can get away with a certain amount of errors. Does that branch really go in that direction? If you really pay attention and do a careful study those errors won't be there and it suddenly makes absolutely no difference what you draw. With a figure though, there is less latitude. While bodies do vary, an error in proportions will just look wrong. There is a constant battle to render a solid 3-dimensional form that actually looks like a figure with all the right pieces in the right places.

So that's why I do this kind of figure drawing. Fairly tightly rendered and studied to the best of my ability. Ideally that ability will continue to improve, that is the object of practice after all.

Both of these drawings are pencil on Stonehenge paper in the 30 x 22 inch range. Given that size, pencil may not have been the best choice of medium, but it gets the job done even if it does take a while. I rather like the idea of having a drawing that I can go back to and chew on until it has been carried to the degree of finish desired. When doing one of these I always think back to my school days when a teaching assistant informed my that no one likes doing careful drawings like this. Well, I do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


14 x 10
Silverpoint on Cream color prepared paper

Here's the latest silverpoint offering. I really don't have much to say about it. Hopefully it speaks for itself. I think there will be another candlelight drawing or two coming down the line.

On the technical side this is about as dark as silverpoint gets. I might be able to push it a bit farther, but not much, and I don't think it really needs to be any darker. If it were I think it would lose that quality of softness it has now. It would take all the air out of the shadows, and they would become more ominous and dramatic. Not going for the Rembrandt look here. Maybe I'll get a chance to play with the image in Photoshop to illustrate the point. All that silver in the darks also makes it almost impossible to get a decent picture. I bet I took 100 pictures of this before I came up with one that is usable. If you look close enough there is still some glare in the hair.

The color of the paper was a bit of a happy accident. Originally I wanted just a light, warm gray, but the raw umber gouache didn't tint out quite the way I expected. I was about to prepare another sheet, but decided to give this a try. I didn't have anything else to use it for after all. I'm glad I continued on with it. The color actually works quite well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Roses in the Snow

Valentines's day is closing in and there's snow on the ground so this seemed like a timely thing to post. If you're thinking that this isn't quite up to current standards that's because it's a good 20 years old. I was digging through the accumulated junk the other day, and found this illustration, just about the last remaining piece from my first go round in the art world. So the imagery may be timely but the posting is a bit tardy. In my defense though, when this was done there was no internet to post to. I was just waiting for technology to catch up.

So happy Valentine's Day to all the ladies out there, and for the guys, the ball's in your court, I'm covered. For once I didn't forget.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lady of the Lake

30 x 22

The Lady of the Lake, a classic subject that I have stayed away from until now. So let me wade into the waters with this one. (See how I worked the water theme in there. Darn he's clever. Please pardon me, all this cold weather seems to be effecting my brain. Back to the scheduled programming.) She's usually depicted in a boat or sometimes just as an arm sticking up out of the water with a sword. Well, I think she deserves to be seen as more that just an arm besides I had this really good photo of a full body to work with. And a boat, c'mon seriously. This is magic, she don't need no stinking boat.

You may be wondering about the sword, or in this case, the lack thereof. I wasn't worthy of seeing it. Yeah, I'm going with that. It's a much better answer than it honestly never occurred to me to include it. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Anyway, now that it's been pointed out to me that the sword is missing I'm considering adding it. I don't think it is really needed though.

And let me once again thank the lovely Elandria. You may remember her from this You would have had to have been paying really good attention or have a really good memory though. Keep her in mind, she may be showing up again to reprise this role and others.