Friday, December 09, 2011

Thanksgiving sketches

Sketch 1:  Carbon Canyon (front lit)

 6" x 8" oil on RayMar canvas panel

Indeed, I have much to be thankful for and the time to get out and sketch is one of them!  I thought the flat effect caused by the sun being right behind me, was interesting.  The dry hillsides and brush made for a harmonious palette.

Sketch 2:  End of Eureka Street

8" x 6" oil on RayMar canvas panel

A white house in shadow is a nice challenge.  I used a toned canvas which is not my usual approach.  Sorry Len Chmiel.  I had in mind to be careful to keep my values in distinct 'families'.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fullerton Footbridge

8" x 5" watercolor on 4-ply plate bristol
(plein air sketch) 
This was a much quicker sketch than the previous one since it was late in the day.  It's such an exciting challenge to capture the fleeting light and yet the beauty before you is almost irresistible.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

View Towards Carbon Canyon

8" x 5" watercolor on 4-ply plate bristol
(plein air sketch)

I love this view which is very close to my home in Yorba Linda, CA.  The weather was very quick to change as it was windy and partly cloudy.  I'm still trying to get the hang of the medium and in this case was surprised at how long it took for each layer to dry.  I've committed to paint in a transparent (traditional) fashion for a while to take advantage of the beautiful translucent quality of the medium.   This "waiting to dry" time was to my advantage as I was able to really just observe and mentally record the different light and shade patterns which were constantly changing before me.  It was a glorious day though I've been frustrated many times trying to paint in such weather.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Yorba Linda aquarelle sketch

 8"x5" 3-ply plate bristol

I had a chance to get out of doors yesterday for a quick sketch.  Loved every second of it!  I tried the paper Burt Silverman uses as explained in his book "Breaking the Rules of Watercolor".  It's quite different with it's rather smooth finish - but I really like the way the color pools in spots.  I still have much to learn - but as they say, "I'm enjoying the journey!"

Friday, May 06, 2011

Walter Vaes - Master of the still life.

I usually don't post about other artists - Walter Vaes will be my first.  I thought others might appreciate seeing these paintings as much as I have.  I stumbled across some images of his on the Artinconnu Blog a while back.  Since then, I'vescoured the internet and sadly could not find much more on this Belgian artist.  I did find an exhibition catalog from Interbook International - but was dissapointed to find that the only image in color was the cover.  I'm still glad I purchased it - so beautiful is the cover image.  To me he has a wonderful balance of realism and abstraction.  I've found a few more images lately and have added them here.  The final image is one of the black and white reproductions from the book.  Oh how I wish I could see it in color!

 Thank you for your wonderful works Walter Vaes!  You have left a great impression and set the bar rather high.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!!

The Lemke Chicken Coupe
 opaque watercolor on toned paper  5" x 7"
I am visiting family here in Sonora, CA.  The weather was beautiful today yet very quickly alternating between cloudy and sunlit.  It started raining as soon as I was ready to paint!  I went inside and painted looking out of the window.  This is watercolor with some white gouauche here and there.  I painted this right in the sketchbook which has beautiful warm toned paper.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Work in progress...

I started this painting a while back.  It still needs some work but since I enjoy seeing other artists works in progress - I thought I'd share.  It is oil on lined mounted on board.

The proceeds from this painting will go to aid these Dalit people in India through the Dalit Freedom Network.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Digital Background paintings from Dreamworks Sinbad

These were a blast to paint - the layouts were really beautiful.  I remember Max Boas did some beautiful layout work.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Plein air sketch - Bette Davis Park

I wasn't able to paint last weekend - here is an older sketch I did close to Disney Studios...  

8"x10" oil on canvas panel

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Tangerine Still Life II

finished drawing
I've opted for a less centered composition.

As I stated in the previous post, I'm taking more time for accurate drawing.  Here, I'm using a brush to find the center lines.  You can see in the above drawing that I've drawn this vertical center line and the horizontal line as well.

Now I'm ready to start laying in color.

Here as before, I've approached this by laying largest area and then progressed to the bowl.  I go to the bowl next because it's edges are neighbors to the negative space.  I want to blend those edges before they dry.

Using this type of paint - it's very easy to get a fluid blending to happen.  Because the paint dries so quickly, it's also easy to get dry brush effects.  I'm cognisant of where I want each effect to occur.

5" x 7" opaque watercolour on cold pressed Arches


still room for two more sketches there...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tangerines in opaque watercolour

My initial setup
 Every time I pull out the watercolours I hear the voice of one of my art instructors , "Do you want to be great in one medium, or good in several?"  This was at least 15 years ago!  Back then (as now) I mostly painted in oils - but occasionally was enticed by the fluid characteristics of watercolour.  Whether what he implied was true or not - I've opted to enjoy both mediums. 

completed pencil drawing

 I recently saw a Michael Klein demo where he painted some plums in watercolour.  I suppose that is what inspired me this time around.  For many years I applied myself to painting the landscape en plein air.  My foremost goal during that time was to get better with color - trying to match the sublime color of nature.  Every plein air painting is a race against the movement of the sun.  That being the case - I saw color and composition as most important and focused less on accurate drawing.  Lately, I find myself re-dedicated to careful drawing and this is especially important with watercolour.

frisbee on an open Box M pochade

 Here - against my better judgement, I've decided to let you in on a little secret.  Yep... the ideal watercolour palette is a frisbee.  Cheap and utilitarian!  In fact, I prefer it to my $90 Holbein palette.  I don't know if all frisbees have the built in wells like this one - but that is what I like about it.  There is also plenty of room to mix color.

There are many ways to begin a painting.  Here, I've opted to cover the simplest and largest areas.


 One of my favorite things about the setup was the translucency of the bowl.  I've begun to tend to that here.

I've begun to block in the masses of color.  Simple to complex... I've laid in the color in patches trying to identify the differences between each piece of fruit.  Once I'm satisfied with this - I'll begin to refine.

  I'm refining here - adding the far side of the bowl - paying attention to the beautiful color effect of the bounce light, translucency, and reflection.

5" x 7" opaque watercolour on cold pressed Arches 


Monday, March 28, 2011

Editing a photo for the purpose of painting. 
How I approach the composition of a studio painting.

This is the original photo.  I've composed a this picture so there is a sense of balance.  The large mass on the right is balanced by the clutter on the left.  I am attracted to the soft flowing forms of nature contrasted by the rigid man-made forms.

I've begun to edit out some of the unnecessary passages using Photoshop.  Anything which I feel distracts from the basic composition I paint out.
I've edited even more of the clutter here and added some warm shapes into the foreground to break up the huge swatch of green.  Notice I'm not referring to "grass", "trees", "houses", at this point.  I find it helps to think in terms of masses, shape, value, color, pattern at this point.
I find it invaluable to have a black and white version of my composition to refer to while painting.  It's very easy to react to color while painting and forget that every color has an inherent value.  Here I can very easily see the value progression in the picture.  

"Spring afternoon"  6"x8" oil on canvas panel

Even though this is a tiny painting - it is the same way I would approach a larger canvas.  With a larger canvas - I would have laid a grid over my reference and then a corresponding grid over my canvas in order to transfer the composition accurately.  I find that painting these small paintings allows a freedom of experimentation.  In this case I wanted to use more palette knife. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


 10" x 8" oil on linen panel

This one is all about contrasts.  Fleshy vs sharp metal, light over dark, busy vs quiet (space), whole vs segmented.