Saturday, March 29, 2014

High Key

This is a high key painting done in normal room light. It presents a very different mood than a painting done with a directed light source and a dark background. The energy appears more positive and the feeling is warmer and sunnier. There is mystery in the copper reflections and  I always enjoy painting metal because of its unique qualities. Just what I need at this time in my life: a bit of sunshine.

Copper Incense Burner and Fruit

Friday, March 28, 2014

Losing Your Best Friend

Like many good things that have happened to us over the years, Jake entered our lives by accident. My co-worker had just finished ranting for the umpteenth time about her four month old puppy who wouldn't stop barking and wouldn't listen to her. According to her he was very smart but she didn't have time to deal with him. She and her husband hadn't realized when they adopted him how much time and training a puppy required. They both worked full time and the puppy wasn't enriching their lives. Knowing I had lost my Golden, Chloe, a few months earlier, she had been pushing me for a few weeks to take this dog off her hands. I understood her need to find him a home but I wasn't sure I was ready to bring another dog home.

Eventually I convinced Scott we should go look at him so right before Christmas in 2005 we drove to her house. We immediately fell in love with the scruffy black puppy who yapped non-stop from his cage in the kitchen. He scrambled over to us as soon as they opened the door of the metal cage and practically jumped into our arms. "Are you here to save me?" he seemed to be asking. He had no problem leaving with us and seemed overjoyed to be escaping from the young family who had kept him caged for most of his life. "Smoke" was renamed Jake and he easily stole our hearts with his playfulness and bossy demeanor. A true mutt, Jake appeared to have Lab and Sheltie in his ancestry, and his keen intelligence and uncompromising stare led us to suspect there was Border Collie as well.

Jake was a wonderful addition to our family and well-loved. I'm sad to share that he was killed this morning in the road not far from his home. We're not sure what caused him to leave his yard when he was let out for his morning break. It was pitch dark and his furry black body would have been impossible for the driver to see. A homebody who didn't normally chase cars or rabbits, Jake must have caught the scent of something irresistible and given chase. In high spirits, he was fast and furious again, fully recovered from a knee surgery that left him hobbling until a couple months ago. The morning air was warm and moist with the promise of Spring after an exceptionally long, cold and snowy winter. I know my sweet Jake felt the damp earth between his toes as he lifted his nose to the wind and soared over the Rainbow Bridge.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Jantzen posed for our portrait group last Saturday. He seemed to be a natural. This young man wants to be a film maker and director so he was posed sitting in the chair with a somewhat thoughtful look on his face. He did a great job. I tried to apply what I learned in my last workshop, which involved slowing down and measuring more carefully and covering structure lines.

11" x 14" oil on linen

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Painting the Nude Alla Prima

I painted this nude during my class with Romel de la Torre at Scottsdale Artists School on the fourth and fifth day of class. It was a challenge to me because I never get the opportunity to paint or draw the figure from life for an extended period. I have attended a few life drawing sessions but they are nothing like rendering in paint. So much goes into the painting process that must be planned and thought about, whereas a drawing is flexible and easily adjusted.

Our beautiful model really liked my painting. She kept posting pictures of the face on her Instagram feed and then she contacted me after I came home about purchasing it.

22" x 18" oil on linen

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Romel De la Torre Workshop

I wish I could have stayed in the sunny 80 degree weather a bit longer but I am back from my annual trip to Arizona. I try to take a workshop every year at the Scottsdale Artists School, They have the largest selection of classes that I am aware of and they are taught by the best painting and sculpture instructors.

This year I took a figure and portrait class with Romel de la Torre, whose work can be seen here. He is an excellent oil painter who spent a lot of time talking about technique, color temperature and brush strokes. It was a fun class.

It was recommended for the class, so I purchased a roll of Utrecht Double Oil Primed Belgian Linen Roll, Type 820, Smooth Texture and I did not realize until I was in class that there was a long thread embedded in the primer. It is currently on sale here and although I got it for a good price I was not expecting that kind of low quality from an oil primed linen. I didn't really notice until I started painting and by then it was too late.
Oh well, it was just a study. This is the one and only picture of my painting of the man we painted the first day. I chopped it up and used the remnants for some plein air paintings.

abt. 20" x 16"

The thread running through the middle of the canvas. sigh

 Here is the instructor, Romel de la Torre, with his finished painting.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Dear Couple

Irene was a dear friend of mine for fifteen years. I met her when I first moved to this area and we became fast friends. She volunteered at a church where I worked and I have seldom met a more giving and considerate person. Her contagious grin and twinkling eyes were irresistible. She has been gone for almost a year now and I still think of her often. The family asked me to do a portrait of her with her late husband, Dwight, and I was happy to do it. They had one good photo that was not formally posed so I scanned it and enlarged and sharpened to see the detail better.

A real plus with a painting like this is that you can change the clothing and minimize signs of aging quite easily. We did not care for the shirt Dwight was wearing so I decided to use colors that complimented Irene's outfit.

11" x 14" oil on linen    Dwight and Irene

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Three Dog Night

OK, it took me more than three nights to paint these cute little fellas. They all live together in complete harmony with their human family. Again, maybe that is a bit inaccurate; they do not always get along. Their "mom" took a series of pictures of them sitting on her bed. I used what I could. The photos were a bit blurry but she didn't use the flash and that worked out well. There is nice back lighting in places, that created an almost golden glow and gave me some ideas for the painting.

Jack, on the left, is the leader. He is a true Jack Russell Terrier. The other two are mixed, but still adorable. The baby, Endo, is in the middle and the old man of the group, Beeko, is on the right.

This is not the most dogs I have ever put in a portrait. I did five Shelties a few years ago.

12" x 16" Oil on Linen