Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wild Burros Have Been Here for Many Years

I came across this friendly Wild Burro munching on some palo verde at a horse ranch a couple years ago when I was in AZ. The little guy didn't seem to be bothered at all by tourists with cameras so I snapped a few shots and forgot about them until the other night when I was going through some images looking for interesting subjects to paint. 
A little background on the Wild Burro: First introduced into the Desert Southwest by Spaniards in the 1500s, they range through a wide variety of desert habitats, as long as they are within 10 miles of drinking water. They they feed on a variety of of plants, including grasses, Mormon Tea, Palo Verde and Plantain. Although some moisture is provided by these plant materials, Wild Burros must have drinking water throughout the year. 

Females give birth to one colt each year, which grows to an average weight of about 350 pounds. Since the Wild Burro has no natural predator, competitor or common diseases, most young burros reach maturity and may live as long as 25 years in the wild.

Early prospectors relied heavily on burros as they trekked long distances across the deserts in search of gold and silver. Many of these burros survived, even though their owners perished under the harsh desert conditions. Many more burros escaped or were released during the settlement of the West. Because of their hardiness, Wild Burros have thrived throughout the North American deserts, and their numbers have increased to perhaps 20,000.

Monday, February 09, 2015


According to my mother, I've been an artist since I learned how to hold a pencil at the age of three. In discussing this with other artists over the years, I have learned that it's pretty common. We are "drawn", (pun intended), from a very young age, to create visual images. We like to figure out how things fit together and what we can do to make them look better. We can entertain ourselves for hours and we have great imaginations.

Many of these same characteristics are shared by writers and musicians. Artistic people imagine and create and they are always trying something new. Last month I enrolled in a Creative Writing course and although it is eating into my painting time I am enjoying the writing process very much. I think the act of writing unleashes a different sort of creativity than the act of painting. I'm counting on the two mediums to complement one another and accent each other in the months to come.

This barn is a familiar sight when I drive westward. What made it interesting enough to stop and photograph was the light. You hear that all the time from artists. It's all about the light." Well, that's because it is. This is an early morning just before dawn breaks kind of light.

16"x 20"
oil on linen
Pettisville Barn

Friday, February 06, 2015

October Stroll

In nice weather this woman walks her boys and her dog every day around the time I go into work. She is a fast walker, very businesslike, which makes me think she is walking for fitness or she is a nanny doing her job quickly to get it over with, She varies her route and one morning last October she was pushing them across the street from where I work. I had my camera with me so I grabbed it an quickly took a picture. There wasn't a lot of detail there but just enough to create an impressionistic piece that tells a story. I particularly love the dog, who is obviously some kind of mutt.

8" x 8"
Oil on Gessobord

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Opposite of Alla Prima

Did you ever have a painting that refused to die? This is mine. The poor girl has been hanging around my house for four years in various stages of completion and incompletion. I painted her on a really good support- a linen panel that seems to be almost indestructible. Well, it has maintained its surface through five reworks, including a lot of scraping.

Today I decided to rework poor Julie yet again. She was a model for a class I took with Mike Malm at Scottdale Artists School in January 2011. Malm was a great teacher. I am just a slow learner as it has taken me four years to acquire the knowledge to fix all the things I did wrong. I did have the original photo of the model so that was helpful, even though I altered her appearance somewhat. Just because I could.

I scraped off a lot of the texture but not all. I actually like the way the different colors play against each other, I wouldn't like it nearly as mush if it was all smooth and flat like a layered Renaissance portrait, I am including a close-up of the skin because I think it's really interesting how all these layers of color can optically blend together and create a fairly realistic skin tone. You don't even notice this from a distance.

This is the final version. I am not going to attempt any more revisions. Yes, I have said that before, but this time I mean it. Although, maybe I should varnish it just to be sure.

Sunday, February 01, 2015


This is a more detailed painting of Miranda, who I painted last week at the Hyter portrait group. I used my study to create an umber underpainting. The values were there and when Miranda posed I used the two hour window to block in the color. The study was very helpful. The new painting is larger and more developed and I like her expression very much. It's often difficult for me to capture a child this age and make her look her age. Usually I end up making them look much older.

18" x 14" oil on linen