Friday, July 31, 2015

Charcoal Drawing

I took some photos of my son's girlfriend the last time I visited him because I think she is a beautiful woman and I want to paint her. I especially love her mass of unruly hair. This is a life size charcoal drawing I did today.

I want to try something different and use a gray toned canvas. I've painted on pre-primed gray canvases for some of my landscapes but I don't think I've ever used one for a portrait. I don't have any pre-primed so I'll mix some black into some acrylic gesso and go from there. I've seen some portraits recently with a plain gray background that I really admire, so I want to experiment.

17 x 23

Monday, July 27, 2015

Old Barn, Plein Air

prefer to paint outdoors when I have the opportunity in the summer. I painted this plein air piece on a warm morning in July last week. The farm has been in the Fry family for generations. When I paint I aim for a "mood" more than a photographic image. The painting should tell the viewer a little bit about how I felt when I viewed the subject.

I was feeling really relaxed and on my game that day, so maybe some of that comes through. It was a perfect morning for plein air and that always cheers me too.

11" x 14"
Turn of the Century Barn

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Light and Shadow

This is an example of a plein air painting that I began in the field and finished at home in my studio. I'm not always able to finish my outdoor studies. Sometimes the weather changes. Other times I spend too long on the details and the light changes so much I find myself doing what's known as "chasing the light."

For whatever reason, there are always going to be paintings that look great and need no modifications when you view them later, and there will be painting that need touch ups. Some plein air artists are purists. They won't modify a painting. Instead they will call it a field study and perhaps create a new painting using the study as a basis for color and value.

I'm not a purist. I don't want ugly paintings hanging out near me, so I will try to bring the painting to a place where it satisfies me. I've learned that I have to do this within a few days of painting the subject outdoors or my visual memory of the scene is likely to be gone. I also need a photograph if there was architecture or a building in the scene, to double check the perspective.

In this painting of a light post at Lakeside, Ohio, I knew I wanted to define the curves on the decorative roof accents and lighten the areas in the sun.

I'm displaying a photo of the finished painting, along with the photo I took as a reference to show the finished piece is not a photographic rendering. I maintained the structure, design and hues of the original and only used the photo as a guide to render the building more accurately and to place my shadows consistently. That's one problem with painting outdoors: your shadows will always move when you're painting on a sunny day.

Sunny Day Lakeside
9" x 12"

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Cozy Corner

Sometimes I have a painting that hangs around for a year or two and I pull it out and think this just needs a little more work. Depending on how the work goes it either ends up in the trash or in a frame. I like how this one turned out. I brightened the flowers and added a cat. It's a very 'cool' painting in tone and hue but sometimes that's OK. I often tend to go a bit too warm on my pieces.

I found this frame at, believe it or not. I didn't actually buy it, I just copied it and photoshopped my painting into it, but wouldn't it look awesome if I did put it in something like this? Frames can make or break a painting, and I have to admit I like the museum look. It seems to add class to ordinary paintings.

9" x 12"
Cozy Corner

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lakeside Hotel Painting

It was pretty warm last week so I focused on finding a place where the shade would be steady throughout the day. There are many mature trees on the lawn of the Hotel Lakeside so it was a good place to set up and paint.

I liked the contrast between the bright green shrubs and the pink flowers.

11" x 14" oil on canvas
Hotel Lakeside

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Marblehead Morning

I live an hour from Lake Erie and I like to go there and paint. I've taken many photographs over the years and this is a painting of one of them: Marblehead Lighthouse. The photo was taken from the rocks in the early morning light.

16" x 20" oil on canvas


More Paintings!

I had a streak of energy and created seven paintings last week. The first three were from photos I had taken over the years near lake Erie, and I also completed four plein air paintings. I'll share them all over the course of the next few days and make up for the slow period on my blog when I was in France. I still have paintings to share from that trip too, so I am a bit behind.

Life should slow down a bit now. No trips are planned and the only thing on my agenda is finishing a novel I started earlier this year.

This is a 10" x 20" painting of a sunset at Lakeside. I took the picture last year from the shore line. In my photos the sun always shows up as white, but I've seen enough sunsets to know that in reality the sun is pink or gold or some other very warm color, so I adjusted the painting to reflect that.

What's strange is that my camera doesn't even want to read the color of the sun in the painting correctly. It's showing us cooler than it actually is.

10" X 20"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunny Days

Today felt like July here in Northwest Ohio, unlike most of the days we've had this month. It wasn't too bad by the lake, because there was a cool breeze. I've spent the third week in July at Lakeside for the past few years. The Lakeside Association organizes a three day plein air paintout and a wet paint sale on Sunday.

There are usually a lot of viewers but not too many buyers. The heat today may have discouraged some folks from attending.

I had some helpers this year, proving once again that you're never too young to have a Bob Ross moment. Not every tree is happy, but if you're painting the trees you're probably happy. Or at least you're living in the moment.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Plein Air Paintings

The annual Lakeside Paintout is this weekend and it promises to be a hot one. Today was humid. Tomorrow will be worse, so I am hoping there will be a breeze down by the lake. Maybe I should paint in my bathing suit so I can jump in the lake when the beads of sweat start sliding off the end of my nose.

Peach Cottage and Cozy Corner
9" x 12"

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pastel Portrait

Here is Josh, a young twenty-something who is looking for a career in movies or television. He would be happy with some modeling work too.

As you can see, he has the looks for it, and when you dress a clean cut guy up in a suit with a bow tie the effect is timeless.  I'm out of step with the times, because my first thought when I saw Josh was: Omigosh-- a young guy with no tattoos or piercings! That is so awesome!

Anyway- here he is, a very presentable young man who might be out of fashion for our day and age, but fits my idea of a great model.
18" x 17" pastel on Canson paper

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Painting from a Rooftop

I'm back from a two week trip to Paris with a side trip to Macon, and feeling quite inspired. After my visit, I was convinced there are no finer museums anywhere than the ones in Paris. The Louvre was almost too beautiful to believe, and the Musee d'Orsay, while not nearly as large, held many paintings I had only ever dreamed of seeing.

This is one of my favorites, by Eugene Burnand. It depicts the disciples, John and Peter, running. It breaks some basic rules of composition, but is successful in spite of it. I'm floored by the sheer emotion I see in their faces, and the roiling skies behind them.

My painting partner decided she needed to cross an item off her bucket list so we ascended to the top of the Galleries Lafayette, a ritzy department store in the midst of downtown Paris, and set up our painting equipment. The day was perfect; there was no wind, which might have been disastrous atop a seven story building, and it was morning so there were no crowds.

She faced the Eiffel Tower and I looked toward The Opera. It was an unforgettable experience. Of course there were the inevitable American tourists who came by and chatted, but fo rthe most part, people left us alone.

9" x 12" oil on linen
Atop the Galleries Lafayette