December 23, 2015


I revisited an old portrait and decided I'd try getting a little bolder with some of the color. I'm pleased with the result here. It's always a back and forth, experimenting, trial and error, etc., just to find that place where you feel satisfied, or at least somewhat more satisfied.

Oil on Canvas 11 x 14

December 02, 2015


This is my most recent and possibly my most ambitious effort. This painting goes 2' x 2'.
I'm feeling good about this one but see it as a springboard for even better things. Each painting is a learning experience and slowly but surely I feel like I'm becoming less inhibited. I still want to do more and see where things take me. I have some ideas and thoughts about what that means but I'll just keep those thoughts to myself for now. I hope you like this one.

Springtime Emergence 
Oil on Canvas 24" x 24"

Detail 1

Detail 2

November 13, 2015


This Friday's study is Robert. He's a well known, long time model in the Northeast Ohio art scene.

Oil on Canvas  11 x 14

November 06, 2015

More Experimentation

Some more playing around with glazing and texture from the same pose and model as the previous post.

Oil on Linen Panel 12 x 16

October 07, 2015

Some Experimentation

I was revisiting a recent Friday open studio portrait that I had done, and was pondering some of the things that Stanka Kordic was trying to get across to us in her recent workshop that I attended.
I think I may take this portrait and do a little experimentation. I've already done some on this one by doing some glazing, which I don't ever do since my preference is to try to paint more directly.

But what the heck. If i wreck it, it's only a painting, right? And I will have learned something in the process.

October 02, 2015


Today's open studio effort. Some values in the shadows need tweaked and some temperatures started running a little wild, but overall I'm happy with the result. Hope you like it.

Oil on Canvas Paper - 11 x 14

September 29, 2015


We spotted this little guy at the Great Trails Festival in Malvern and he seemed to be really getting into his role. I asked him if he would let me take his picture and he went right into his pose like he was seriously out to do some bad bidness to protect his posse from the enemy.

There is a bit of annoying glare here that I couldn't seem to eliminate and I should have taken the painting off the easel to avoid the shadow at the top.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy here. I think good things are happening. The important thing though is I feel like I'm continuing to learn and grow and make progress.

Oil on Panel - 14 x 18

Stanka Kordic Workshop or, Do Things You Don't Usually Do

I did a two day workshop with Stanka Kordic at our local art center. My way of working is pretty far away from the way Stanka paints, which is why I chose to do it.

I had been feeling like my paintings needed an infusion of something different. I like a lot of different representational painters. Some of the ones I like make great use of the textural qualities of paint. Nicolai Fechin comes to mind. Stanka's work is in this vein as well and I've greatly appreciated it for a few years now. She's a great experimenter, which is one reason why her paintings are so interesting. There is a real sense of depth and mystery in them, I think, because of her willingness to cast aside fear and just go for it. This is what I was hoping to get just a little bit of into my paintings. I'm never going to be a Stanka clone, which is good news for everyone, right? But if something of that fearlessness works its way into future paintings, I think that will be a good thing.

Here is the practice painting I did from the workshop.

September 14, 2015


This little portrait is of a young model that I'd painted previously. I rather like the way this one came out. I completed this in around 2-1/2 hours. I really like the surface it's painted on. It's a Sourcetek panel covered in Claessens 66 linen. Really nice weave and texture on this which I tried to exploit. 
Hope you like it.

Oil on Canvas Panel - 11 x 14

July 18, 2015


Well I finally remembered the name of this Friday's most recent model.

I'm seeing some things I like in this one. It was mostly in shadow so it was very important to use temperature to get the forms to turn because pretty much all the values were very similar. Also, played some with the palette knife in the background for some textural interest and variety,

July 16, 2015

Young Man in Profile

Yes the blogpost title is lame, but once again I failed to get the models name. Another 2-1/2 hour study with a smidge of follow up at home.

Oil on canvas board - 11 x 14

One thing that doesn't show up in the photo are some blue accents in the hair, but generally the values and hues are pretty close.

May 11, 2015


Here's a completed recent effort. Generally happy with this one, although I think I should be doing more with a supporting environment. I'll be thinking harder on how I can get my backgrounds to add to a painting like this that is less portrait and more narrative. Also, I want to keep in mind what I learned at my workshop with Jeff, keeping things looser still. The shadow at the top is from my easel. Sorry about that.

In case you didn't know. Busking is singing or performing on the street or some other public place for cash that passersby donate. So he's a busker!

Oil on Canvas Board - 14 x 17

May 06, 2015

Jeffrey Watts Workshop

Well, here it is. My review of my workshop experience with Jeffrey Watts at the Scottsdale Artists School. I originally wanted to do a nightly re-cap in separate posts but I was experiencing serious wi-fi issues in my hotel so I decided to just do my write-ups all together and submit them as a single post. 

This first part is basically a blow-by-blow of the itinerary for the 5 days. After that I will give my overall impressions and summation of the experience. I hope you enjoy.

Day One

The first day of my workshop at the Scottsdale Artists School with Jeffrey Watts as instructor was a good one. I had a lot of anticipation going in but also a bit of apprehension. I'll go more into that later. 

Day one consisted of Jeff telling us all about his method of teaching, his school, and his basic life philosophy and outlook on art, after which the group sat down to draw and paint. The class was intended to be one half day of drawing and a half day of painting. Jeff had us draw and paint from some busts that he had brought, essentially so he could assess where we stood, experience and talent-wise. He came around to each person asking to know a bit about their background and their expectations for the workshop and then offered some positive suggestions and observations on what they had painted or drawn. Even though it was clear that people were not all at the same level, he treated everyone equally, time and attention-wise. 

The bust you see on the left is the Asaro Head, created by John Asaro. As Jeff tells it, John Asaro designed this head based on the Riley method of abstraction in order to assist people in gauging and navigating the features of the head. I found this exercise to be helpful and I think I'll be investing in getting one for my own benefit from which to practice. 

Day Two

The second day Jeff had us split our time with half the group doing warmup gestures of 5 minutes each pose, and the other group painting from photos that he provided. It must be noted that Jeff places great emphasis on strong drawing skills as the foundation for everything else. He's a workhorse when it comes to tackling the skill of drawing in all it's many facets and he stresses that it is a skill that must be continually practiced throughout ones lifetime. I tend to agree. 
In his drawing he uses a relatively un-taught and unpracticed method called the Riley method of abstraction, after an artist Frank Riley who was a student of George Bridgman's.  The method consists of a series of rhythmic lines based on muscles and bone protrusions and landmarks on the human form. Once practiced, learned and absorbed, Jeff suggests, it makes accurate navigation and placement of the features much more efficient. This is probably the thing I was hoping to take away from the workshop as much as anything else.
After the workshop and later in the evening, Jeff gave a 2-1/2 hr portrait demo that was open to the public. The school charged 20 bucks to watch the demo but it did include adult beverages and snacks. Even though I was taking the workshop I decided to pony up the twenty and watch the demo. Watching Jeff do his magic is pretty wild. He works so fast it doesn't seem possible. Even though he maintains a strong drawing throughout the process, there are times that it looks like he's just making a mess, but then before you know it he pulls it together beautifully. I don't know if he does this for his own paintings but he doesn't mix his basic flesh tone. He just uses a pre-mixed convenience flesh straight out of the tube. Watching the demo was for me, money definitely well spent. 

Day Three

On day three we spent half the day doing 20 minute head lay-ins and the other half doing 40 minute painted gesture portraits in oil. Jeff demoed both of these for us. What Jeff could accomplish in 20 minutes with a charcoal pencil is truly astounding. Almost depressing. But as I see it, it's really based on two things. 1- Thousands of hours of practice, and 2- How he's individually hard-wired. More on this later. 

Jeff's Study - 20 minutes - Sheeesh!

This was also an especially meaningful day for me, because I got to spend some one-on-one time with Jeff. I had asked him if he would mind taking a look at some of my paintings from this blog and give me some feedback and critique. He was more than willing and so we sat down at lunch together and got to know one another on a more personal level. We didn't talk all art every minute, but also about life, and mundane stuff in general as well. He comes across to me as a very genuine guy and we got along well. He had some very nice things to say about my artwork and offered what I felt were very valid suggestions and things to watch. This was big for me as honest and knowledgeable critique is hard to come by and it's something I feel is necessary in order to make positive strides towards improving. 

Day Four

On Thursday we spent half the day, around 2-1/2 hours, drawing from a single pose, and in the afternoon we spent the same amount of time painting, also from a single pose. In every case on each day we had outstanding models. When we had nudes the poses were always good and dynamic, and when they were clothed they typically wore something really interesting. For example on this day we had a gentleman who was native American and who dressed in some period clothing which made painting all the more pleasurable. This is my second time around at SAS and I must say, both times they always delivered with the best models.

Day Five

On Friday our final day, Jeff demoed for us in the morning. He did what he calls a Master Copy, which is essentially choosing a past master painter and learning through copying one of their paintings. This gets you thinking about their process and gives some insights into how a master problem-solves and how they work their way through a painting. Doing this gives you options as to aspects of their painting methods and techniques that you might want to adopt for yourself. It's not really about copying for the sake of copying or becoming someone else. Really it's about learning, growing, absorbing what is useful and discarding what isn't useful for you.

Jeff did a great copy of a painting by Nicolai Fechin, to whom he is often compared. Since he finished it rather quickly he took up the rest of the morning by showing us how he draws the figure simply from memory. This being the result of many thousands of hours drawing and studying anatomy and the human form. Here is a progression of images of Jeff's demo.

Overall Impressions

Okay, so here's the part I think maybe more people might be interested in. 

Remember what you read here is just one person's opinion and should be taken with a grain of salt. If you'd asked another person from the workshop, their impressions may have been completely different, so for what it's worth...

I'd mentioned in the beginning that I was both excited and apprehensive to do this workshop. The reason for my excitement should be obvious. Mainly the opportunity to train with someone that some consider a living master. Is that an accurate moniker for Jeff Watts? I personally think, if anyone is deserving of such a title, Jeff would have to be included in that category. He has dedicated many hundreds if not thousands of hours to become as good as he can possibly be through repeated practice and study. Being "good" in art, it often seems, is not something that people aspire to. In a period in time that seems that artists are mainly concerned with self-expression, "good" is a term that implies something measurable, and if some are good or if some art is good, then that might mean that some others are maybe not so good. People don't seem to want to hear that nowadays. But Jeff doesn't shy away from the idea of "getting good" at drawing and painting. Herein come my reasons for apprehension in attending this particular workshop.

In choosing Jeff for a workshop instructor, or anyone for that matter, I think it's common sense that one would try to do some up-front research on the potential instructor. I found it almost astonishing that some people at the workshop clearly did not do their homework when it came to Jeff, his particular teaching style, and his basic personality. As a result they would often make negative comments expressing their disappointment and generally wound up doing their best to bring down the atmosphere of the workshop. Very foolish.
In my case, in trying to do my homework, I got to know Jeff, basically through some teaching videos that I had either purchased or seen on Youtube. I also did something that I hope will serve others in this blog. I sought out reviews of other workshops that people had taken with Jeff and what they had to say about their experiences. Taking in this information left me with a couple of basic impressions. One, that Jeff was extremely talented, and Two, that Jeff talked a lot. Nay, that Jeff talked nearly incessantly. It wasn't just that Jeff talked a lot, but that he talked a lot about himself and he talked a lot about his school and his teaching methods. It almost seemed like he really wanted you to know just how much he knows. I honestly was concerned that I might be walking into an infomercial for Jeff's atelier, where we would get some truncated version of what he was about, but that if you wanted the "good stuff" you could pony up for a monthly fee to make use of his on-line atelier. 

Was my apprehension justified? That would be a qualified, no! 

I think if you are considering taking a workshop with Jeff, one question you have to ask yourself is: "What kind of person am I, and what kind of person do I respond to?" (Okay that's two questions). In offering evaluations and suggestions for people's work, Jeff is kind and encouraging no matter what level you are at, but he is also straightforward. Jeff doesn't seem to like excuses. He is a hard worker and practices the way a high-level athlete trains. He's disciplined and likes to see that quality in others. In fact Jeff told us how he was at a very high level in competitive cycling when he was younger. He trained obsessively until injury sidelined his athletic career. So Jeff views art as something you practice, practice, practice in order to attain your goals and get better. Now to some all this self-talk might seem like bragging, which can be off-putting, and as I said I was a little worried about this. But I figured going in that I was aware that this could be a possibility, but that I could take it in stride and just filter out the noise and take from it what I wanted. Now having actually experienced Jeff for myself I realize that I had really mis-judged him prematurely.

Does Jeff talk a lot? Yes, but it's not bragging. It's passion! Pure and simple. Jeff has a great amount of passion and enthusiasm that can be confused as boasting if one is not given to a generous spirit. In his effort to impart as much useful information as he can he will tell you a lot of what he knows, which is considerable. He name-drops a lot, but it seems like it's because he loves the art world and it's various participants so much that his enthusiasm is hard to contain. Honestly, what I originally thought I would find annoying, I found to be totally refreshing. The fault was not with Jeff, the fault was with me, in terms of what seemed like potential negatives. That's why I say that one needs to be honest in their self-evaluation of what kind of person they are and what kind of person they best respond to. 

Did Jeff talk a lot about his school. Yes, partially because I had asked about it because I was curious, but also because you can only impart so much information in five days. It seemed natural that if people were really serious about improving in certain areas that he would point them to where they could get the kind of instruction that they were seeking at his school. Nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned.

The bottom line for me was this. I had good take-aways from this workshop. I enjoyed it very much and I liked being pushed and stretched in my thinking and approach. I respond to the athletics analogy. I appreciated Jeff's comments towards my own work. I found Jeff to be encouraging, but real. To me this is the best kind of instruction I can hope for.

Jeff Watts and his lovely wife Krista
(Sorry if that's not the correct spelling)

Me photo-bombing Jeff and Krista.

April 07, 2015

Honorable Mention

I'm very pleased to announce that my painting, "Male-Study" was given an Honorable Mention at this year's American Greetings Fine Art Show. Come to the show if you are able, this Friday April 17th at 6pm.

March 31, 2015

Recent Study

The latest study from over at Bay Arts.

These studies are fun, but I know I need to do more finished work.

Which is why I recently began a new composition that is soon to appear on this blog. Something a little different for me as of yet. Having fun doing it, but at the same time it is a challenge. We'll see if I can pull it off.

This study was kind of the warmup, even though it's very different from my new piece. Anyway that's why I'm including it now.

Oil on Linen - 11 x 14

This particular shot is a little washed out as well as having some glare, but hey, you artist's out there know how that goes.

March 10, 2015

Big Hair - Study

This young man had some crazy hair. His dad is one of our fellow Friday painters.

This study was completed in around 3 hrs. I left his hair unfinished because I actually thought it looked good as it was. His hair was quite dark.

The End.


Oil on Linen 11 x 14

March 05, 2015

Two Recent Efforts

These next 2 ports are my most recent. The male was done at BayArts open Friday Studio and the female was done from a photograph that I took during a previous model session with Susan here in my studio. I wanted to take advantage of the lighting setup I had created and so I took some shots from multiple angles.

I think I got a good likeness with the male model. With the female I was a little less concerned with likeness and just wanted to concentrate on technique. It was really kind of a study, but I feel like it came out decent.

Oil on Linen 14 x 17

Oil on Canvas Paper 11 x 14

As far as painting from life vs. painting from photographs goes...

I try as much as possible to paint from life. I think it's essential for me to be able to go in the direction I want to go.  I'm not a purist however and so sometimes if necessary I will use photographs. If I have to do so though I try not to be a slave to my reference. I try to treat it as though I actually had the model there in front of me and think about things such as what edges might need softening, as the camera tends to make everything sharp. I'm learning to do this more and more and feel like I'm getting better at it. But again, painting and drawing from life often make this task, not easy, but easier. 
One thing I never do is trace or project my image onto my canvas. I say never, but I did do it once or twice very early on. I felt like I impressed others but lied to myself. It felt terrible, especially because I knew I had the ability to draw it freehand, but was just too lazy. 

This reminds me of a little story I once read in Harvey Penick's Little Red Book Of Golf.  I like to play golf and Penick was the sage from whom every aspiring pro wanted to glean nuggets of wisdom. It's technically a golf book, but in truth it's a book of life lessons applicable to many life situations. Anywayyyy...

He tells the story of some parents who had invested a great deal of time and money to teach their young son the game of golf and would go out with him regularly. One day the parents walked into the clubhouse with Junior after their round. Old mister Penick began chatting with the proud parents and asked them how little junior had done that day.
"Oh he did just fine today. In fact Junior just got his first birdie ever" The parents beaming.
"Oh and how did this happen? Tell me about it." 
The parents proceeded to tell Harvey how the boy had hit a nice drive down the fairway, had gotten the ball onto the green in one, leaving it about 2 feet from the hole. Seeing how the ball was so close to the hole the parents just picked up the ball and called it a gimme.

"Well," said Mr. Penick. "I guess little Junior has still yet to make his first birdie!"

That was kind of how I felt when I traced. I was telling myself I could actually do it anyway if I wanted to, so why not just take the easy way and pretend that I did it through skill.

Never again!

February 07, 2015

Two Recent Studies

Not much to say here. A little experimentation with a palette knife in the background.

The male was done in around 3 hours, and the female was taken a little farther at home, so probably around 4 hours to this point.

Oil on Linen Panel - 12 x 16

February 05, 2015

Bailey in Repose

I'm not opposed to tasteful nudes. Done well and done tastefully it's a beautiful thing. Although I'm not sure how many intimate paintings such as this I'll be doing in the future, like everything else this was a good learning experience. Also, I hate to make excuses but I think this one looks better in person than it does in this photo.

Bailey in Repose
12 x 16 Oil on Linen Panel

January 27, 2015

A New Model and Some News

Here is our most recent Friday model at Bay Arts. It's been a while since we've had a male model so I was glad for the opportunity.

Oil on Canvas Paper - 12 x 16 

The canvas paper I use is a fairly inexpensive one which comes in a pad. I've noticed that the quality of the canvas is not always consistent from pad to pad. I was not as happy with this last pad that i purchased. It's weave is too uniform. Almost as though it were embossed on paper in perfectly regular, or straight rows. This can create a problem sometimes when viewed on screen, because the weave of the canvas will create a moire pattern with the resolution of the pixels on the screen, which can be quite distracting. Computers vary so I'm not sure if others are noticing the same thing. Anyway, I can't complain too much. Like I said it's relatively cheap and it serves it's purpose. It's actually real acrylic-primed 
sheets of canvas. I also figured for these kinds of practice portraits it would make it much easier to archive and store the originals when I was done with them, rather than having stacks of stretched canvases, or even panels piling up. This way I can file 50 paintings or more in a single drawer of my taboret and it might take up about one inch or so in depth. Also, I have tried stretching some finished studies onto stretcher bars once they were dry and have never had a problem.

The news is an exciting bit for me. I'm headed back to the Scottsdale Artist's School in a few months to take another workshop. Although there are many great instructors out there, I have a pretty short list of people with whom I would really like to do a workshop. Fortunately there is one at the SAS that I believe I could benefit from and who is on that list.

Details to follow.

January 16, 2015

Another One Of Libby

At Bay Arts Libby shows up quite often. I don't mind as she is a very good model to paint.

I think I'm making some good steps forward with this one. Still some things to watch out for in retrospect, but overall a good effort, I think, towards bigger and better things.

Oil On Canvas - 16 x 20

January 04, 2015

Nifty Trick

So, I understand blogs are not just about sharing your latest work but also about sharing tips and working methods. Well here's one trick that someone once showed me and that I've since been telling people about that's been saving me lots of clean up time. 

I can't imagine I'm the only person that dislikes the chore of cleaning out your solvent container when the solvent gets too murky and dirty. In the past I could use up to about 5 or six paper towels trying to clean the sludge that remains at the bottom after you've poured off the clean solvent to re-use.

Well here's how I get around that mess. I take a ziploc sandwich bag, I line the inside of my container with it and pour my solvent into the baggie. When the solvent has gotten dirty I pour the clean solvent into another container and the junk that remains is in the baggie, ready for me to just lift out, seal with the ziploc zipper, and just throw away. All that's left is a perfectly clean container. How awesome is that? 

Take a look.

As you can see I use the traveling container that locks tight. It's great because the container has a cleaning plate with holes in it so the sediment goes right to the bottom and the clean solvent stays at the top ready to use. I've travelled with this container sealed shut with the baggie going over the lip as shown and with solvent in it and it has never leaked.

125 bags in one box will probably last me until I can't even lift a brush anymore. Try this setup. I think you'll like it.