June 27, 2013



Oil on canvas 11" x 14"

Finally an opportunity to paint from life. This model was one that came to sit for a Friday afternoon painting group at Bay Arts. The model usually poses for 3 hours with breaks. I didn't quite finish it there, but I snapped a few shots with my phone and was able to complete it at home. I'd say I had it 75% complete when I brought it back home, so my speed still needs some attention. But overall I'm satisfied with my progress. And yes, painting from life is much more challenging, but in my estimation, much more rewarding  because working from life is where your greatest strides as a painter are made. I've heard it said and it's true, that the camera just cannot capture all the nuance of chroma and hue the way the human eye can. Even with HDR.

This painting is another mixed bag in terms of results, but hey, it's a study, so I can't get too crazy about what's not perfect about it. Progress is happening, so I'm happy.

June 26, 2013

Royal Blue

Royal Blue

Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"

Okay, so it's kind of fashiony, but I like it... for the most part that is. It's funny but I don't feel that I'm ever completely happy with anything I've painted so far. Maybe that will come, but for now I'm feeling fairly good about this one.  Good enough to make the girl part of my banner, as you can see. It may seem strange but one of the things I feel best about in this painting is the sky and background. I know it's kind of a nebulous thing but I felt like when I was painting that sky I was painting in what I heard Quang Ho call the second, or maybe even the third level. That is painting without thinking, kind of in the zone, like when a musician loses all sense of mechanics and just "does" music. It may not show, but it was how I felt at the time. 

Now if I could just spread that feeling around to the whole painting.

June 25, 2013


 Oil on canvas 16" x 20"

I took this gentleman's picture at an outdoor fair in Malvern Ohio. They had lots of people dressed up in period costumes and so I'd asked him if I could snap his picture for a painting. He was more than happy to oblige and this painting resulted.

The setting was originally outdoors, but I changed it up as I thought the indoor setting worked better. I tried to keep the background loose in contrast with the subject. I think that part was ok, but after I'd finished I realized that there was really not enough variety of edges, which helps to create atmosphere, as I was still painting "up to the line." That said I think it was a tough painting to do and I felt as though I had made some positive steps.

June 24, 2013

Type and Technique

Oil on canvas 16" x 20"

So, this is probably my first real attempt at doing a full figure painting.  This was done in late 2012. Again as with most of what I've done to date, there are things I like and there are lots of things to work on. But overall a really good experience on the road to competence.

My main goal in this painting was to think about "type" and technique. Once again, unfortunately this painting is from a photograph. I loved the attitude that the girl in the photo evoked. I tried not to copy too much and instead concentrated on looseness in the right places. I think in some places I was successful, but in others not so much. I have a lot to learn but I feel like I'm at least headed in the right direction.

A Few Early Attempts




All three of these paintings were early efforts at portraits. I did others but these are fairly representative of how I began taking up oils in color. Considering these are my first crack at doing more serious portraits, I suppose there are some things that I like about them, but plenty that I don't like. I won't say what I am not happy with and am content with others making their own judgments. I was definitely very inexperienced then, and still am, and I think it showed (and still does).

The first one is of my niece, Alex. She was a very good model. The second is a photograph ad that I found. I tried not to copy the photo directly and instead tried to play with some of the brushwork and color, as well as changing around some of the models features. The third one is of my son Ian. This was from a photograph I took under some really bad lighting.

June 23, 2013

A Tip O' the Hat

Before I get too far into this archive/journal (which is it anyway?) I have to give a shout out to Mike Malm for being the one (besides my wife... that's another post) to really help me get my feet wet in terms of thinking about how to approach the painting of people and figures in the medium of oil. A few years back I had the good fortune to take one of Mike's 3-day workshops at his studio in Wellsville, Utah. He has this really great studio to work in, and he was very patient and helpful, especially for me being such a beginner in this medium. But the thing that stood out to me most was Mike's (and Juanita's) kindness and sincerity towards me. They have a beautiful family and they couldn't have been better hosts, especially as I was a complete noob to the area.

If you have an opportunity to take one of Mike's workshops, do so. You won't be sorry.

Mike and Juanita Malm in front of one of Mike's beautiful paintings.

First Baby Steps

So, this is more or less where I'm beginning. I did several of these quick (for me), monochromatic small studies of different ethnic "types." They were supposed to be quick anyway, around an hour, but I could never finish one quite that fast. They would generally take me around 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. Then as now, I'm hoping that my speed picks up. They are monochromatic because at that point I really just needed to get a feel for the medium of oil paint and it's technical properties and aspects without having to worry about color as well. I think for anyone considering starting painting in oils, these kinds of monochromatic studies are a good way to begin. 

This, and my other quick studies were not from life, but from some old national geographic photos. I was not at a point yet where painting from life was an option for me. so this would have to do. I understand now, even more than before that painting from life is ALWAYS preferable, but sometimes it's just not feasible nor practical

My goal is to paint realism. But not photo-realism. There is a space between impressionism and realism that I've always been drawn to and hope to gain some proficiency in. I'm a noodler by nature, which means that I tend to over-render. I feel that I don't want to do that anymore, as it takes a great deal of time. It's hard to get away from, but I'm striving for looseness and atmosphere in my art rather than exactness. That takes lots and lots of practice... but I'm willing.