December 17, 2010

December 6, 2010

Bowling Tree Yellow/Gray

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 11 x 14 inches

I thought I'd try this again, with a tighter crop to simplify the composition, and with a limited palette. Not so much to eliminate color, but to narrowly define it. I was back at this site yesterday, in the rain, and looking at the scene I really didn't sense a lot of color. I could see it and describe it, but it wasn't really the focus of what turned me on about this tree.

Depending on how this appears on your monitor, you may not see much more than grey, but I used a combination of the following throughout: Titanium White, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Orange, and a touch of Mars Black.

December 1, 2010

Bowling Tree

Acrylic on Canvas Panel Ω
I really like this tree that looms over the lawn bowling greens in Golden Gate Park. I had a certain style in mind when I started this painting, but it kind of had a mind of it's own and turned out quite differently. I know it happens some times, but it left me feeling a little inept, so I'm gonna try again soon.

November 28, 2010

Acrylic on Canvas Paper – 12 x 4 inches

This is my entry for November's Virtual Paint Out, and just in time. This month's location is Rio de Janeiro, and though I looked around a bit, I stumbled upon this scene pretty quickly and it just clicked.

Here's the Google Maps link if you're really interested...

Rio de Janeiro link >>

November 27, 2010

Prep Work or Installation?

Acrylic on Canvas

Just a shot of a bunch of canvases prepped with a nice orange undercoat.

November 15, 2010

San Jose Palms

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 10 inches SOLD
More palm trees, only just shadows this time.

November 8, 2010

New Show!

I've swapped out all the paintings at the Apollo for a new Fall Show. If you're in the neighborhood, be sure to check 'em out. Hopefully this selection reflects all that I've learned this summer. Well, at least some of what I've learned. Well at least something....

The promo on the right says it all.

November 7, 2010

Scott Three Big

Acrylic on Canvas - 20 x 24 inches

Taking what I've learned from the previous revs in this series and working a bit bigger, using the palette knife again, and adding a bit more of the surrounding scenery.

November 4, 2010

Scott 3 Knife

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 10 inches

Another in the series. I decided to try this as a looser, knife applied painting. It was actually really freeing and fun no being able to stress over little tiny shapes and details.

October 29, 2010

Scott 4up

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 11 x 14 inches

Oh, the series continues.

October 26, 2010

Scott Three and Three

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 11 x 14 inches - sold
And so the series continues.

October 23, 2010

Four and Two

Acrylic on Panel - 11 x 14 inches

For some reason, the two paintings I did of this house and palm trees were a big hit at the show this summer, so I thought I'd do a series of them to see what else I could do with the scene. And I haven't really done a series before, so I'd like to see what that brings up as well.

October 21, 2010

Blue Bank

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

Another fantasy landscape.

October 19, 2010

Pink Phone

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 10 inches (destroyed)
From a photo I took a while ago in Sonoma, I finally got around to painting it. All was smooth sailing, except for the skin tones. Tan skin on a warm day, but in the shadows... is it orange, blue, brown? I had to redo the skin several times and never really arrived at a satisfactory result. I just decided to stop after a while.

October 14, 2010

Onion Pot

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 8 inches  SOLD
I'm a big fan of Carol Marine's and whenever she returns to painting onions it gets me to rethinking my process. Onions are tough, but she always does such a great job.
The last batch she did, she mentioned painting them in using one basic mix for the middle value, and then sculpting the roundness from there. So, that's what I tried to do.
This one looked really awful until the final moments when it all came together.

October 7, 2010


Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches - NFS

I'm not entirely sure I painted this one myself. I had a little free time after warming up on another piece, so I thought I'd sketch this one in rather quickly.

It started off terribly. The board was too slick and the paint wouldn't stick, I couldn't get a real dark mix together, and I really should have done a dark base tone to knock things back from the get-go.

For some reason, I just kept plodding along, thinking to myself "This is just a rough start. I can fix all of this tomorrow." I kept dancing around the panel, slapping color into one area, and then darkening another etc. And as an hour flew by, I discovered it was almost done. I was kinda shocked. Everything just fell into place and still managed to stay nice and loose.

There is definitely something to turning off one of your lobes, or just ignoring the parts of the brain that think they know what they're doing versus the parts that actually know. Wish I could do this more often. It does remind me of why I was so attracted to painting in the first place.

October 6, 2010

San Miguel de Allende

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 9 x 12 inches

October's Virtual Paintout is in sunny San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!

Using Google Maps to pick a location, is actually harder than you might think, because, basically, you're limited to actual street views – i.e. the view from the camera on top of the Google car. You're basically planting your canvas right in the middle of the street.

That said, it is still fun to go scout around a place I've never actually been to and pick a scene to render. Fun!

October 5, 2010

Up Tempo

Acrylic on Cardstock

Using left-over palette paint, this combines a few techniques, including dragging and knife application. A recent observer remarked that they liked the vibrant colors in the abstracts I do in this style, and I realized one of the reasons for this is that for the backgrounds, I use a lot of mixed puddles, but for the foreground, I use a lot of colors that have not been mixed. Also, since these are quick and the paint is very wet, I don't do any blending.

September 7, 2010

NYC September

Acrylic on Panel - 12 x 10 inches

This is for the September Virtual Paintout, on a little known island on the east coast. More precisely, it's Central Park South looking East. Be sure to check out the other submissions. There's some great ones, and they'll be posting all month. Here's the Google Map link, if you want to see the location.

I decided it was finally time to try the new Golden Open Acrylics, and I have a sample set of basic colors and white, plus some of the Open Thinner. These are supposed to behave more like oil paint (something I know nothing about) and they definitely stay wet a lot longer. Everything was still wet and malleable when I wrapped this up in two hours. In fact, the painting was still a little tacky this morning.

I can't say I love them right off the bat, but I think it's just getting used to something different than the fast drying acrylics I've been using. I feel like I'd really like something in between. Maybe I'll try mixing with both sets of paint. The only thing that really bugged me was that the colors I got are fairly transparent, so it was hard to get the kind of solid strokes I'm used to. More experimentation is definitely in order.

September 3, 2010

Blaze Bank

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

Having fun with loosely suggested landscapes again. Basically avoiding any real work.

August 26, 2010

Cowboys 4

Acrylic on Canvas

I thought I'd give this another go. I've been reading a lot of back issues of the various art magazines I subscribe to, and my head in now full of more guidance than I can possibly put into practice in any short manner. However, it is helping me pinpoint the things that annoy me about my failures (and it's good to have failures – and insights).

This is starting to look less like a cartoon, and more like a painting. I consider that a good thing, for what that's worth. It's still far from what I was hoping for, but I am discovering why, which is actually a lot of fun. Did I mention that painting was fun before? I sure hope so.

August 9, 2010

Prince Edward Farm II

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 18 x 14 inches - (destroyed)

I decided to crop in a little tighter and make the overall composition a little stronger. If you compare with the first version you can see what I moved around. Also, having worked out a lot of issues this was a lot easier to do, and it was easier to keep it fluid.

I looked at a few of my favorite sources and noticed that a lot of painters leave the background loose and unfinished looking to increase the sense of depth and focus. Though I tried decreasing it's saturation and tried pushing it towards bluer tones, it didn't really work out that way. Something in my is fighting this concept.

I think I could do a dozen more of these, but I think part of the problem I'm having is that this is from a Google photo, and not from a scene I've seen firsthand and photographed myself. I really should get outside. It's just that it's the coldest summer in San Francisco in at least 20 years. Excuses, excuses.

August 8, 2010

Prince Edward Farm

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 18 x 14 inches - (destroyed)

This is for the August Virtual Paintout, on Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia. Be sure to check out the other submissions. There's some great ones.

I seem to have fallen into all my usual traps. Almost all of the trees are the same value, even though some are far away, and all are in the same level of focus and detail. I'm going to try this one again, incorporating some of the things I should have learned by now about distance and focus. The we'll see if I've really grasped the concept. Stay tuned.

July 31, 2010

Hastings House

Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I was captured by the colors of the pink setting sun and blue shadows on a building I saw on my last trip to Hastings-on-Hudson. I took a few photos, but new that those colors just wouldn't show up on my camera, so I made a mental note to try and compensate for that later.

When I got back I opened the pic I liked in Photoshop and began tweaking it to better match my memory of the lighting. I probably could have just "imagined" the colors, but since I have Photoshop I thought I might as well start with an adjusted reference photo instead.

I think it turned out a little too dark and extreme as a painting, but I do like the shapes of the tree's shadows on the building. I may try and pull this back a bit when I have time.

July 26, 2010

Page House Blues continued

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24 inches

Today I blocked in the major color shapes. I actually got a little carried away, putting in more detail than I should have at this point. By comparing to the postcard, I can see that the building is way too bright. If I had just stuck to bigger shapes, this would have been just as obvious, but would have saved me some time, since I now have to go back and go over everything here.

I think subconsciously I wanted to see what it would look like brighter, but in doing so, I think I lost out on the impact of the original sketch. The learning process continues.

July 24, 2010

Page House Blues continued

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24 inches

Oh, I forgot to do a wash on the canvas before started, to knock back that stark white to some middle tone, so better late than never. Even stranger was the thinned wash I used beaded up a bit on the surface not immediately "bonding" with the gesso. Not sure why. Maybe it was something that happened in storage.

After a bit of scrubbing I got it to mesh in nicely, and naturally it mushed the charcoal about, but that's fine, since it helped prevent the charcoal from meddling with successive applications of color.

July 23, 2010

Page House Blues

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24

I really liked the quick sketch I did of this a while back. I thought it would make a good subject for a larger piece, so I began by sketching it in in charcoal and then painting in some basic shapes and the darkest darks. Naturally, I kinda like it just like this, but I must proceed.

July 20, 2010

Tres Palmas Yellow

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

This is actually a quick and dirty application on top of the show postcard. You can see some details poking through. I just had some paint already out and a few minutes to experiment, so I did. Since the original generated so much interest at the show, I think I'll be doing a series of these soon, with different colors and compositions.

I just saw two great shows at MOMA in NY, for Picasso and for Matisse, both emphasizing their use of doing series of paintings/drawings often going back and simplifying and reducing compositions to just their most basic elements. In Matisse's case, often over a period of years, revisiting a piece, moving figures within the space, deleting elements, changing the color palette. If you get a chance, definitely check these two exhibits out.

July 12, 2010

Tres Palmas Blue

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

This was another sketch version I did of the Tres Palmas in a much more muted palette. It basically revealed that a more colorful version was in order. Still, I like the variety.

July 10, 2010

Fulton and Baker Revisited

Acrylic on Panel

This piece is lying near my easel, so I often pick it up after working on something else and being all warmed up already, I find something new to adjust in this piece. It may be a bit like polishing, well, a thing that shouldn't be polished, but I do enjoy seeing how a few bold strokes here or there can completely change the focal point, or the mood, the relationship of shapes etc.

In other disciplines I've discovered that this path is often fruitless, in terms of arriving at a finished piece, because of some major structural flaw. A boring song, a poorly conceived photo, even a bad pasta sauce. It can't ever really be saved. Better to just start anew.

However there is a lot one can learn in the process of making adjustments and seeing what happens. Especially freeing if you know you're working on a piece that may never turn out right. You can't ruin a disaster. The knowledge gained can then be applied to other projects, even if it can't save the patient at hand.

July 7, 2010

Wedding Party

Acrylic on Canvas Paper - 12 x 12 inches

This month's location for the Virtual Paintout is Hong Kong. I gave the roulette wheel a spin and immediately landed on this spot. Not the quaint seaside landscape I had hoped for, but I took it as a sign, as a challenge. It just seemed like one of those artifacts of the modern world, like the Google Map image captures of people breaking into their own homes or sunbathing topless etc. It also reminds me of Scorsese movies for some reason I can't explain.

I know I said I was fed up with the moisture sucking properties of canvas paper, but I had a nice square sitting here, and I thought if I coated it first, added lots of medium to the paints and put it on thick it would be OK. It wasn't. Canvas paper is just no good.

July 5, 2010

Fort Mason

Acrylic on Panel - 11 x 14 inches Ω
I was down at Fort Mason for the big art event of the Spring and snapped this shot of one of the piers. Typical grey SF day, so not a lot of warm colors/values, but I liked the simplicity of just doing the end of the pier (as apposed to painting the whole length of the pier).

July 2, 2010

Apollo Show Extended

For anyone who didn't make it to Apollo Coffee to see the show, it's been extended through July. I just got back from swapping out some of the sold pieces with some fresh ones. Stop by and have a look.

Cowboys 2

Acrylic on Canvas

Although my initial drawing was good, I really did mess up the proportions when blocking in the big shapes. Things are looking much better now. However, there seems to be an overall dullness. Not sure why. Maybe there's no contrast between warm lights versus cool shadows etc.

Maybe I could try some washes. I've never done that before, and I'm not really sure how to do that. I also don't know if I really want to start using that as a technique to "fix" poor initial color judgements. Hmmm. This will need some thought.

July 1, 2010


Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24 inches

This is a quick sketch based on a photo I took at last year's 4H event in Healdsburg. These guys were waiting to judge some cattle event. It just seemed so damn 'merican.

I thought I'd mapped things out pretty well, but in retrospect, I can see the body proportions got all skewed after I massed in the major shapes. The guy on the left looks like Porky Pig, which would be nice if that's the kind of editorial comment I was after, which I wasn't.

I'm gonna have to give this another go, soon.

June 29, 2010

Downtown 2

Acrylic on Canvas - 20 x 24 inches

So I worked on this a bit more and fixed a few things that were bugging me, but tried not to fix "everything" or overwork it. It's not wildly different, but overall, I think it works better.

June 28, 2010


Acrylic on Canvas - 20 x 24 inches (destroyed)
This is downtown SF, though I'm not sure of the exact block. I found this photo on my phone, and thought I'd try turning that tiny little reference photo into a BIG canvas.
I actually started this on top of a failed painting from last year. There was a lot of texture already there, which makes it a bit more of a challenge. Not sure how this will impact the finished painting when I'm done. I'm hoping to build on top of that with even more texture, but at this stage, it's just not there.
The building in the front/right is more brightly lit in the photo, and I like how that looked, so I'm gonna see if I can get that in, fix the sky and correct the scale of some of those people-looking shadows.
I love the taxi in the bottom/right. It's just a complete mess of paint, and yet says "taxi" loud and clear.

June 24, 2010

Brunch Pause

Acrylic on Canvas Panel Ω
A crop in on the same reference photo I used for the previous "Brunch" pic. Just trying to simplify and work larger, so I decided I'd work on one figure. This was fun to do, since I'd already worked out a lot of issues with the previous one, and with a bigger surface and bigger brushes, it'll be easy to keep the brush strokes loose and energetic. Well, that was the plan.
Actually I did mange to stay fairly loose. I did a quick sketch, blocked in the major areas, and then once I could see the relationships, slopped on another layer with adjusted values, and a few details. Pretty rushed, but still fun.
There's probably a few things I'd touch up before calling it finished, but then again...

June 22, 2010

Big Factory III

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 11 x 14 inches

I had a bit of free time, and the palette was out already, so I decided to tackle this one, one more time. I liked the idea of seeing through the fence, so I added more of that sort of detail here, and corrected some of the poor geometry. It still doesn't have that fresh quality the tiny sketch had but it's a little better. Still not entirely sure why I'm bothering with this one, other than it's been lying around.

June 9, 2010

Lindsey Mae

Acrylic on Canvas - 8 x 16 inches sold

One of those lucky snapshots on my last trip to Florida, this is a shot of my buddy's daughter, trailing behind the group, dancing with her shadow.

In other news, the show up at Apollo is doing pretty well. One piece sold before I got it up, and another on the night of the show.

I also made a nice display of about 15 postcard paintings, mounted in those "show kits" with a beveled bit of matte board fitted over another 11 x 14 inch board and then put into a cellophane envelope. I think so many people are used to seeing prints displayed this way, I'm not sure many of 'em got that these were actual original paintings. Oh, well. I may try this again, some time.

June 3, 2010


Acrylic on Panel - 11 x 14 inches sold

These women were having a very intense discussion about something during brunch, on what was otherwise a balmy spring day at an outdoor patio eatery.

In a related story, the show is all up at Apollo, and this one's in it. The reception is tonight, and I'd probably be nervous or excited except I'm too tired and too busy.

All week long I've been hating my work and feeling like a phony, but I knew that would pass, and finally it has. Mostly because of the nice comments I got while hanging the pieces.

Fingers crossed.

June 1, 2010

Independent View

Acrylic on Panel - 11 x 14 inches sold

Another neighborhood scene, in between rain showers.

May 31, 2010

Rainy Oak

Acrylic on Panel sold

Another late Spring rainy evening on Oak Street, facing West.

Sorry this photo is so crappy, but it's not an easy one to capture. Guess you'll just have to come over to the show to see it. Ahem.

I don't think many folks lean toward rainy day paintings, but we'll see what the public at large have to say.

May 30, 2010

Rain Walker

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches SOLD
Obviously from a photo, 'cause there's no way I'm gonna paint out on a rainy afternoon, and my vision isn't so slow to see trails in headlights. Not yet.

May 29, 2010


Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches

One of the costumed participants in last year's Bay to Breakers costume mini marathon. Despite the subject matter it feels a little cartoony to me. I can decide if she should stand out more or less from the background. Does the background help set the scene or is it just distracting?

The only part I really like is the gold trim on her costume. Loose, brushy and not a touch of gold paint.

May 28, 2010

Park Walk

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches

Another random snapshot of the neighborhood. I liked the lighting and the mood, but not entirely sure I captured anything of great interest. So be it.

I did learn a lot in terms of the values of the trees, as the receded and the brightness of the sidewalk, but I don't think I succeeded terribly well in rendering either.

Tres Palmas II

Acrylic on Panel - 12 x 9 inches sold

From an old postcard sketch I did, I decided to ramp it up. You can see it differs a bit from the promo image at the top of the page, for many reasons, like my poor photography skills, but mostly from my decision to get more sunlight on the face of the building, and to lighten up the shadows a little.

May 27, 2010

Factory II

Acrylic on Panel – 14 x 11 inches

I had originally done this as a postcard last year, so I thought I'd try it again, bigger. What's missing is the looseness of brush work, which is what I guess I really liked.

May try mixing up some puddles and setting the timer for 30 minutes and attacking this again soon.

May 24, 2010

Eddie's Cafe

Acrylic on Panel – 12 x 9 inches sold

In trying to work larger, I'm struggling to resist using the small brushes. I find I'm being stingy with the paint, especially in the puddle I mix up. Just not used to it yet is all. And I'm having a hard time keeping things loose without trying to put every tiny object in place. For this one, I actually went back a few days later and put some looser strokes in place to give it some energy and have it not look too much like an illustration.

I might try this again with a different crop. It's hard to tell what the intended focus is here anyway.

And don't miss the banner (upper right) mentioning the upcoming show at Apollo.

May 21, 2010

Bike Train

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches

I've had this photo floating around for a while but didn't feel up to painting people just yet. I had such great success sketching it and doing a value study that I went ahead and sketched a larger version too.

However my luck changes beyond this point. I guess the value sketching was just easier because I wasn't trying to hard and there was no color issues to deal with. Because I'm new to painting larger, and I really wanted to make a "masterpiece" out of this, I wound up migrating to small brushes way too soon, and lost sight of "big picture" concepts.

For one, the composition is crap. Why the train? Why the off kilter angle? Why this cropping? These are all good questions to consider before painting all afternoon and obsessing about the curve of an ear lobe. Ugh!

May 20, 2010

Davenport IV

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 14 x 18 Ω
I've been busy trying to learn how to paint larger, for an upcoming show, so I've been a little slack on posting.
I just received a great new accessory – a clip on "natural light" easel lamp. Wow, what an eye opener. My apartment has terrible lighting, and now that the days are longer, and I tend to paint in the evening, the difference in illumination between 5:00 and 8:00 runs the full gamut.
Now I have a much more consistent environment, and it's helping me mix more accurate color well into the night. As a result, I'm re-examing some recent work and making adjustments. I'm also doing some new, larger pieces, which I'll be posting as well.
This landscape still bugs me. I've improved a lot of the detail areas, but those distant hills are still wrong. I think they need to be a lot lighter to help demonstrate their distance. Maybe I'll take another swing at it soon.

May 7, 2010


Acrylic on Canvas Paper - 9 x 12 inches

It's a new month, so a new Virtual Paintout event. This time the location is the Czech Republic. An entire nation as a virtual location!

The real challenge was finding spots that had actually been logged by Google's streetview crew. After hunting for a while, I gave in and went straight to the river front in Prague.

I really need to stop painting on the canvas paper, though I seem to have tons of it in supply. It really sucks the moisture out of the paint, and makes it hard to get any "flow" happening. I never really noticed it before, but since I've been painting on panels and postcards, I can really tell the difference.

I guess I could put a heavier base coat on the paper, but at that point, I might as well use something else. Anybody ever experience this phenomenon too?