Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Portland, Maine

I took photos of lobster boats in Portland, Maine when I drove home from a painting trip this past summer. The colorful reflections, lobster boats, traps and shipping containers tell a story and I plan to do more pieces along the same lines. This is the first, a smaller 11" x 14" where I made the boat the center of interest.

12" x 12" Portland Harbor

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trying Other Methods

For the most part I'm an alla prima painter. I like to work wet in wet and finish quickly, blending as I go. I had some time on my hands recently and decided to try an older method where an underpainting is applied using a greenish tone and lead white is mixed with the green to paint the lights and halftones. It's important to identify the darks early and try to maintain them. I suppose you can use a drying agent like Liquin to speed up the process but I didn't.

I ended up painting some of the warm colors into the lead white mixture when it was wet, which is  not what I was supposed to do. If I try it again I'll use a drying solvent.

Here are a few progress images and the final, which I was pretty happy with. Why did I attempt this? Because I visited a museum a couple weeks ago and noticed that all the paintings I really liked had the red-green complimentary color scheme going on, and the green was very visible in the shadows.

I used a photo for my painting but this method was used extensively in the 16th and 17th centuries from life. Yeah- they didn't have camera back then. :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Log Cabin Oil Painting

11 x 14 oil on linen

This house was a recent commissioned piece from Etsy.

Commissioned Pet Portrait

This lovely girl has a degenerative hip disease and I was commissioned to paint her portrait as a gift for the owners.

16x12 oil on canvas

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Quick Paintings

When you challenge yourself to complete a painting within a set time period, you're testing yourself to see how instinctively you can paint. I think this is important, especially when you're painting using the alla prima method. It's also a prerequisite if you're going to paint outdoors, where you need to capture an image in under two hours, due to the changing light. I spent just under 45 minutes capturing this pair.

I like apples. They're paintable, seasonal and best of all, edible. :) There are McIntosh apples. They're delicious.

McInstosh Apples
5x7 oil on panel

Friday, November 04, 2016

Fall Painting

9x12 oil on canvas

This piece is a demo for a class I did in September. We all used the same photo reference but it's amazing how differently everyone's paintings looked when we were finished. A common error, even when I point out easy ways to judge proportion, is to make the focal point too large. About half of the barns ended up in the center of the painting, even though I was careful to point out that the barn rests on the left side of the canvas.

What I really like about this piece is the brilliant fall color in the background which manages to remain cool and unobtrusive because of the ultramarine underpainting and lack of detail.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


Most commissioned painting are never as straightforward as they seem initially. I was aware of this one going into it. Sometimes I find out later--like the one I just finished. "Can I make the brick lighter? She is covering it with concrete." That's another story, though. I am limited by the image in front of me and sometimes that image is horrible. It's always easier to do a good job if you can see the subject with your own eyes. If you can't do it from life you can at least do a sketch and use your own reference photos. There is something about sketching from life that imprints the image into your mind.

Here are the two photos I had to work with for this piece. One seems to be a photos of a snapshot with flash glare and the other one is a digital image of what the awing looks like now. I wanted to ask why they couldn't just take a picture of the house with its teal awning but maybe it burned up and this is a gift to remember it by. Who knows. I thought it was worth a try and it turned out so well I decided to use it on a flyer. I'm hoping it doesn't make people think I can routinely create something from nothing. This one was a fluke, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Angel 18" x 24" oil on canvas
Angel posed for a portrait group I attend last year. I was never happy with the painting I did so I pulled it out recently and reworked it. I think it's easier to work on a portrait that is close to life size than to paint the smaller sizes I usually work on. And of course, photos are always more difficult to work with, but easier if they're photos I take myself. Then I can adjust the color in Photoshop to match what I recall. The real problem is with the room where we paint: there is a lot of reflected light from windows, which changes as you paint and a few overhead lights tend to turn on and off at will, which drastically changes the lighting as you're working.

This painting is still not perfect, but it's better than it was and I'm tired of working on it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Crazy Abstract Art

If you don't know what to paint sometimes it's better to just throw some paint on the canvas and hope something comes to mind. This is how I approach an abstract painting. I see lots of crazy images inside this piece but I chose to focus on one: an angry bird. :)

Monday, October 31, 2016

House Painting with People.

16" x 20" oil on linen
This is a house in Connecticut that I painted for a couple who won the bid in a grand prize to benefit the Autism Society of Connecticut. I donate a few paintings a year to worthy causes and this is one. The couple sent me three pictures, one of her with the boys, one of him with the boys and another of the house. Adding the people in front of the house is a nice way to personalize a house portrait.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Seasonal Stuff

This is a painting of tomatoes and peppers given to me by my neighbor. I kept the piece very warm and used a lot of cadmium red to achieve this. Even the background is quite warm, but it's still red, which really keeps the focus on the peppers, because they are a complimentary green.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Another Portrait

Jada 11" x 14"
oil on linen

Jada posed for our Saturday morning group. She is eighteen years old and moving to California this year to go to college. I think I've made her look a bit older than she actually is.
Jada won Miss Buckeye State, which is a huge honor. You have to be smart!

This painting was done 90% from life in one pose and I finished her dress and the background home using a photo reference.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pastel Portrait

This is a pastel of our model, Jessica, completed in one session. I used Ampersand Gessoed paper in umber and Rembrandt and Nupastels for the most part.

16 x 12 pastel on Pastel Board

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sgt. Jon Martin

Sgt. Jon L. Martin

I was asked to create this painting of Staff Sgt. Jon L. Martin five days before the event where it was to be presented. I have painted these posthumous pieces of military personnel who have been killed for the past eight years but someone else was asked to do the work this year. Martin died from injuries he received when he was injured in a bombing in Iraq.

Apparently the piece did not look like him and they asked me if I could do something at the last minute. The reference was awful- a tiny cell phone print out on plain computer paper.

So I finished three days before the event and ended up framing it for them two days prior to the ceremony.

It was a challenging piece, to say the least, but I was happy with the way it turned out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Didn't Stop Painting

A few people have asked me when I'm going to start updating my blog again, and the answer is today. I recently began working full time and it's limited my painting time. But I'm still painting and I'll share some of the good ones over the next few weeks.

This is a painting of Jessica, a model who posed for our portrait group in September. Jessica always manages to look like a different person every time she poses.

16" x 20" oil on canvas

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hal's Garage

This morning a friend and I painted a picturesque old gas station that we had been wanting to paint for months. Hal's Garage is on the west side of Fayette, a small town 30 some miles west of Toledo.

12" x 12" oil on canvas

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Custom Beach Painting

A woman commissioned me recently to create a painting of her family on vacation. Three of the people were actually in the reference photo but I used some artistic license to add the others.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Port Clyde, Maine

Another view of the harbor in the afternoon from a different vantage point. Notice how the atmosphere is blue in the morning when the sun is weaker and there is moisture in the air. As the day warms the water molecules disappear and the air becomes clearer.

9" x 12" oil on canvas

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Harbor View - Maine

I painted this view of St. George's Harbor on a July morning in Maine.
9" x 12" oil on canvas

Saturday, September 03, 2016

1940 Dodge Coupe

I painted a picture of my friend's husband's car this morning. It was a wonderful day to be out painting. Cool and sunny with a nice breeze. September is a great month to paint en plein air.

12" x 12" oil on canvas

1940 Dodge Coupe

I painted a picture of my friend's husband's car this morning. It was a wonderful day to be out painting. Cool and sunny with a nice breeze. September is a great month to paint en plein air.

12" x 12" oil on canvas

Monday, August 08, 2016

Maine Wildflowers

Another painting from Maine- eventually I will be caught up, but I haven't taken the time to update this blog in a few weeks so I am behind.

I painted this looking east toward the ocean about mid-afternoon. I loved the cool tones of the shadows and the violet wildflowers.

Maine Greens 12" x 12"

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Dip Nets

This is a restaurant where we painted in Port Clyde when it was raining. I loved the colorful lobster buoys and the yellow reflections from the overhang. My friend painted facing the other direction.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

More Paintings from Maine

Here are two more paintings from my trip to Maine. These were painted from similar locations at slightly different times of day. One was a relatively calm day and the other one was painted on a day when there was a small craft advisory.

I love the way the sky and water can make a scene completely different from one day to the next.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Port Clyde, Maine

I spent last week in Maine with eight other artists. We rented a house and plein air painted during the day and drank wine in the evening. I had never been to Maine before and the rugged beauty of the coast was a joy to paint. We stayed in the St. George area, in the tiny village of Port Clyde.

I am sharing a painting of some row boats I did while standing on the deck of the local coffee shop, Squid Ink Coffee.

9" x 12" oil on canvas

Friday, June 10, 2016

Iris and Buster

Iris is the granddaughter of a friend and she took a nice photograph of her when she visited her recently. I loved the red boots and baggy sweatshirt. I added the little Westie for interest.

16" x 20" oil on canvas

Can We Take Him Home?

Thursday, June 09, 2016


This young lady modeled for our portrait group last week. She was so professional and we appreciated her steady gaze, excellent posture and ability to return to the pose--and her beautiful costume, of course!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Old Homestead - Plein Air painting of a Pioneer House near Yellow Springs, Ohio

This is one of the paintings I completed in the workshop with Tim Horn that turned out okay. The subject was an 1820's pioneer home nestled in the woods. I thought the red of the house would contrast nicely with the spring greens in the foliage.

The owner told me the brick in the house is orgiginal and it was in great shape, proving yet again that they just don't make things like they used to.

9" x 12" Pioneer Home

Monday, June 06, 2016

Tim Horn Workshop

I attended a two and a half day workshop with Tim Horn last week. He is an excellent instructor and had some helpful tools for painting outdoors. There was nothing that was new to me, but watching him actually using the tools-one was a color isolator- reinforced the idea that I should be using them as well.
Tim's work is all about light and shadow and the first full day of the workshop was cloudy, but he still managed to impart some of the wisdom that has made him one of the top landscape painters in California.
I did not do a decent painting in this workshop, but I did create one I liked at the B&B where we stayed.

12' X 12" The Glen House

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Maumee River Plein Air

Another great spring day in Northwest Ohio. A somewhat less than inspired painting but when the goal is just to relax and enjoy the day the result is always a success.

9" x 12"
oil on canvas

Friday, May 20, 2016

Spring Weather Arrives

It finally got warm enough for me to get outside and paint. I need 50 degrees or better and I like it to be 60. I am a wuss, I know. This wisteria is growing up the side of a tree. The back lit shrubs were brilliantly lit. No wind, lots of shade, steady light and lots of birds flying around. My host furnished a glass of wine and all was well in the world for a couple hours. A perfect day to be outside painting.

12" x 16" oil on canvas

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mallard Lake Oak Openings

I used a photo taken by one of my students to paint this demo for a weekly painting class I'm teaching this month. It's a local metro park near the place where I am holding the class. I photograph every step then throw them into a Powerpoint presentation so they have a step by step map for their painting. Many of the people taking this class have never painted before so it's very helpful. They also have a print of the original photo so they can see what I modified to create the painting.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Texture study

I bought this clay pitcher the other day for the express purpose of painting it. I love to paint gray objects, even more than I love to paint white ones. They reflect light in a beautiful muted way that is hard to describe and even harder to paint. The values are closer for one thing, so it's harder to get them right, making any attempt to paint a challenge. But I enjoy challenges now.

I added some complimentary food objects: a yellow lemon and a red-violet onion.

9" x 12" oil on canvas

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Woodhouse- a German Shepherd- Lab Puppy

This is a commissioned painting of a dog I painted for Mary B. for her son's wedding. Yes, dog portraits are pretty in vogue now. In the old days- like the 1800's-- people wanted portraits of their family members. Now they want their pets immortalized. It's OK with me. I love painting dogs, especially when they have soulful eyes, like this pooch.


Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Last painting for the Spring Session

11" x 14" oil on canvas-- from a photo I took when I was in Phoenix and the students did a pretty nice job with it too!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Spring Greens

My next to the last class with these painters, and we painted spring flowers because it is Spring, after all. Everyone did a great job with this one. I had to finish mine at home.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Paint Party

A few week ago I helped out with a fund raiser and our project was helping little girls paint teacups on canvas. All the kids were dressed nicely because the theme was an American Girl Tea Party. One child was sooo adorable I couldn't resist taking her picture and painting her painting her picture.

11" x 14" watercolor

First Time Art Collectors

I recently came across a blog post about art collecting on the Invaluable blog, which you can find hereCeline Rabago makes good points about collecting art, and the most important is this: collect what you love. This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? Don’t buy art because it looks good with your couch, or you think it might be worth more someday. Buy art because it speaks to you.

The mother of a man who has some of my work hanging in his cafĂ© owns one of my paintings. It’s a painting of an old woman raking leaves in front of a barn. Her dogs are lounging nearby. Every time I see this woman she makes a point of telling me how much she enjoys the painting and how she sees something new in it every time she looks at it. She has it hanging in a prominent place in her dining room where she can look at it when she has her meals. She is a collector who knows what she loves.

I’ve had a few collectors purchase art because they are interested in studying my painting technique. While they admire the painting and are happy to have it hanging on their wall, they are also interested in acquiring knowledge about how it was created and they want to examine it closely at will. I’ve purchased paintings for this reason too, specifically two demonstrations that were done by well-known artists I took workshops with. The paintings remind me of my experiences and are also souvenirs of a sort. I value them because I watched the process of creation from beginning to end.

Sometimes a collector will purchase a painting because it reminds them of an event or a place they have visited and have fond memories of. A number of my lighthouse paintings and at least one painting I did in Paris of L’Opera were purchased by collectors who were attracted to the scene because it brought back memories of a vacation.

When I first began selling art on the internet a collector purchased more than twenty portraits from me within six months. I discovered that this man enjoyed collecting for the sake of collecting. He had acquired so many pieces of original art that he had begun to hang them at the college where he worked. Had collecting become an obsession with him? Who knows? One man’s passion is another’s obsession and I would never fault anyone for purchasing original art from genuine artists when there is so much crap from China being passed off as ‘original’.

So while there are numerous reasons to collect art, the best reason is always because you love it and you want to see it and enjoy it every single day.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Daniel - Scottsdale Artists School Model

One of the trios I love to make when I visit the Scottsdale area, in addition to the many and varied galleries of course, is to the Scottsdale Artists School open studio. They have one on Friday, Saturday and Monday evening. You need to arrive early to get a good spot, which is why my friend and I were lined up at the door waiting for the doors to open at 8:30 am on a Friday morning. We weren't the first ones there, but we did manage to procure spaces in the front row for the five hour session.

The model whose name was Daniel, arrived. He was a long-legged young man with melancholy eyes. He wore a nice suit and struck an interesting pose--and how lucky I was in my choice of easels because he was staring right at me. The props were sweet too: a trunk and a couple of suitcases, which made me think of a train station, and that's why I added "SORTIE", or 'exit' in French, to the wall when I was finished. They do a nice job with their model setups, which is why they were lined up at the door I suppose.

So the title is a bit ambiguous. Is he leaving someone or something, or is he just waiting for a train?

12" x 16"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hope with Red Hair

A portrait that I started at our weekly model group and finished at home. Thirteen year old Hope actually had pink hair but I did't feel like painting it that unnatural color. So I changed it to auburn. I asked her what color it really was before I left and she told me it was blonde. But I like the red I created and it's a natural foil for the olive shadow tones that always tend to show up in our room.

I worked on some watercolor paper that I gessoed and coated with a wash of black and yellow ochre a few years ago. I found it when I was cleaning up my studio and I thought it would be fun to try something different. I really liked the way the paint went on. It's very different from the new Arches oil paper, which is a bit flimsy. I did a portrait on that paper and it actually tore when I removed the tape from the board it was mounted on.

Hope 11" x 14" oil on paper

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

More Plein Air from Arizona

This is another painting I completed near Phoenix at the beginning of the month. This was painted near my friend's condo, looking upward in the late afternoon.

The rock formation at the top of the hill was interesting and many of the prickly pears were starting to bloom, along with some other plants I'm not familiar with. I was able to achieve the soft forms on the delicate plants that had previously eluded me.

9" x 12" oil on linen

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Plein Air in Arizona

There's a trick to painting the desert en plein air and I haven't totally figured it out yet. It involves condensing multiples subjects --like shrubs and cactus and rocks-- into solid shapes. Matt Smith does it extremely well, but this Ohio painter always runs into a few difficulties.

Still, this year's efforts were better than many of my others. My friend and I painted in a conservation area near the Sonoran Desert and the fresh dry air was welcome, especially when I knew that fiends and family back in Ohio were experiencing record quantities of rain.

I think I did a passable job on the saguaros. They are challenging. What I really love about this area are the misty purple mountains. Whenever possible I set up my easel so I am facing then so I can include them in my painting.

9" x 12" oil on linen

Monday, April 18, 2016

Remy, a Pit Bull, 11 x 14 oil on linen

Remy was a loyal friend of the family for many years. An American Pit Bull Terrier, he defied the stereotypes and was a gently companion to their children for many years. I was commissioned to paint him as a gift for his owners.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tulips in Watercolors

I don't paint with watercolor too often, but I took a class with a friend recently and I enjoyed experimenting with the wet in wet method. It's a bit scarier than oils because there is very little control--especially to the novice. I liked the tulips I came up with.