Sunday, September 28, 2014


I started this portrait from life at the Hyter Group, a portrait group that meets in Toledo on Saturday mornings at Common Space 2. Our model was Charlie, a Vietnamese immigrant who was into body-building in his younger days.

I had a pretty good base down and planned to continue it the following week. Unfortunately, I left it in my trunk at Oak Openings when I took my dog for a walk on one of the trails and something happened to it. At home, I removed it from my trunk and discovered tiny track marks all over the painting and also on a leather bag. Something, perhaps a chipmunk or a mouse, was able to squeeze into my trunk. Maybe it was attracted by the smell of the oils. I don't know.

I had to smear the entire painting into a series of tones while it was still wet to get the footprints out. So I decided to fix it and I used a cell phone picture I took of the model as my guide.

11" x 14" Charlie

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Soybean Fields

You might wonder what is so beautiful about soybean fields. I will tell you that I am downright distracted by them this time of year, especially in morning and evening light. The golds and violets are stunning. It is my goal to capture this beauty correctly SOME DAY.

As I said, it's a goal. I'm not quite there yet. The fun thing about being an artist is that you will probably never be as good as you wan to be; so there is always some unattainable goal for you to work toward. It keeps life interesting.

I used two photos to create this painting, plus a little imagination.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gold Star Portrait

This is a portrait of Sgt. Sonny Zimmerman, who was killed in Afghanistan last year.

Every year I do a painting for a program the American Legion does. They present the portrait to the mother of the soldier during a ceremony.

11" x 14" oil on canvas

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More Rework

Another found painting: this time it is a model who posed years ago for our local portrait group. I could never paint this woman's face quite right. I have a picture of her but it is taken from a different angle than the painting I did. One of the regulars who come on Saturday mornings takes photos of the models and brings them in the following week. I may have grabbed his instead of taking one of my own pictures because I couldn't find a matching reference.

I recalled how well the painting of Bathsheba went. I didn't have a photo reference for her either. So I decided to "wing it". I pulled up a Rembrandt painting on my computer with similar lighting and tried to fix this girl.

I am sharing the various stages I put her through, from beginning to end. I think this might be my second attempt at fixing this painting.

Something amazing happens when you throw the photograph away. You work from your memory and your general knowledge of the subject. My finished painting might not look exactly like the model but it looks much nicer than the attempt I had made at "painting a photograph." This is a general rule I've known about for awhile but it really sinks in when you see it in action and experience it yourself. As Judith Carducci repeatedly stressed in her portrait workshops: "Don't use photos- they kill your eyes!"

Painted from a photo-and not very well

Getting rid of distracting elements and simplifying values

Adding decorative jewery and cool areas to the skin tones and hair

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hope, an Oil Painting of a Friend

Sometimes being an artist means you have the ability create a gift that will mean the world to someone. Hope was a two year old rescue dog whose owner adopted her from a kennel and then spent a ton of money on surgery to repair her damaged hip. Apparently the dog became her best friend and protector for eight years. Hope passed away this year and the owner's mother contacted me about creating an oil painting of her. The picture she supplied was not lovely. It showed Hope in the treatment room at the veterinarian's and was taken from an awkward angle. I focused on her gentle face and beautiful fur, cropping out the background and changing her position a little. I have a Golden so I had a perfect model for the ears.

This portrait of Hope came together easily and I think her mom will love it when she receives it for Christmas this year. I love these kind of projects. 
Hope 11" x 14" oil on canvas 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Reworking an Older Painting

Often I will not be able to complete a painting during the time the model poses. I painted this woman at the Scottsdale Artists School during an open studio session. It was a five hour pose and when I was finished I had a rough idea of the color, values and position of everything. Because it was such a complicated scene, I didn't have time to put in much detail. Flash forward three years. I am going through my older paintings, trying to decide which ones to save and which ones to gesso over and re-use and I come across this one.

I will gesso over a canvas once and create en entirely different painting if there isn't much texture on the canvas. Sometimes the painted underpainting provides a really nice element and complements the painting on top.

For this re-work I had no photos of the model since she had requested that we not take any. At the time Daniel, who is the general manager at the school now, was just starting his job as the model coordinator. He did such an awesome job on this set-up with the composition that I decided to save her and try to revive her. It wasn't too difficult to consolidate values and smooth out skin tones. I am putting up the old painting so you can see what she looked like before. The basic lines and shapes are there but the "finesse" was missing.

Now I think she looks like an ancient temptress so I have renamed her Bathsheba.

14" x 18" oil on linen


Friday, September 12, 2014

Plein Air Delta Ohio

I painted this view of Fulton Union Christian Church from my friend Sue's yard. Her little pit bulldog Zeeva kept me company the entire time. A beautiful late summer evening!

9" x 12" oil on canvas

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Fishing Boats

I used a long horizontal format for this painting because I wanted to keep the focus on the boats. The original photo (by Margaret Wiles--and used with permission- THANK YOU MARGARET!!), was a 4" x 3" proportion. I cropped the top and the water in front and tried to give a different viewpoint. Perhaps one we would see if we were sitting on a boat in this harbor.

Fishing Boats
10" x 20"

Friday, September 05, 2014


I set these wonderful peaches up slightly off center. I struggled a bit because I didn't have any cadmium orange and the cadmium red I was using seemed weaker than normal. It was Charvin and I might have purchased the student grade by accident. I'm not too familiar with that paint but I did get a really good buy on it from Jerry's Artarama.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Summer Days

8" x 10"
Summer Days

Another summer bites the dust. We have had a wonderful summer, weather-wise and in every other way. A new daughter-in-law, a new puppy and a new boss for me at my day job. What? You thought I painted all day? No- just after I get home from work, and fix dinner. Then there are weekends of course.

This is a small painting done in a very impressionistic way.