December 29, 2008

Little Diva

Acrylic on Postcard

This is a quick copy of a larger painting I did this past Spring.  Again, aiming to keep it small and quick, using just one brush.  I think it has more energy and immediacy than the big plein air study I'd done earlier. 

I'm officially all caught up now. No new paintings since the move, the holidays and lots of other work. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

I'll be back in full swing, soon.

December 21, 2008

The Red Book

Acrylic on Postcard

Another quick study for a postcard.  Nice n loose and not too fussy. I wish I could bring these qualities to my regular stuff. We'll see.

December 17, 2008

Happy Mac

Acrylic on Postcard

Moving apartments has thrown things into disarray, so I'm going small. Here's the first of a few postcard sized sketches on, well, postcards. I'd actually done a sketch of this 11x14, but pretty much wanted to throw it out the window, literally. 

After taking a breather, I decided to tackle it again, only faster and smaller, and without "trying" so hard. Worked much better. Maybe because I'd already worked out what wasn't working, but there's something about a small canvas and using only one size brush that seemed freer and more immediate.

December 14, 2008

Kitchen Lamp

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

A quick study of my old kitchen lamp and it's effect on the wall.

December 8, 2008

Empty Pitcher

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

Not half full, not half empty. Just plain ol' empty. A quick study of the type I usually sketch in charcoal. Turned out to be a lot more complicated in color, as I'm learning. 

November 30, 2008


Acrylic on Canvas Paper

This is the dark-side companion piece to the previous post. Not only darker and more obscured, but looser and more "melty."

All copped up into postcards and sent individually. Haven't heard back from my pen pal yet, but we'll see how well he's doing piecing these together soon. (hint - this needs a comment, ahem).

November 20, 2008

ARBORE light

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

Part of a mail-art piece, this 12x12 piece was cut into six 4x6 postcards and mailed to my mail-art associate. There's another version that was cut up and mailed simultaneously. Wonder how he'll receive them, and if he'll piece them together. Hmmm

There may be a bit of a log in posts for a while. I'm relocating, so packing, moving, landing etc., I don't have a lot of time or opportunities to paint or post. Things will be picking up again, soon.

November 19, 2008

Pond (study)

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

A quick study based on what I saw outside the DeYoung in Golden Gate Park. I hear they had a problem with killer frogs here, but I saw no frogs, so they either solved the problem, or they were already hibernating, which seems unlikely due to the extremely looooong Indian Summer we're having. I don't thing that the reflection of the trees should be so much warmer than the trees they reference. Didn't even notice that until just now.

November 11, 2008

Alamo Square Day's End

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

I just love the way the rays of the sun skip down the hill at that angle. This is from a photo, but I hope to go paint this live when the weather gets a little better.

November 9, 2008

Hayes at 6:00

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

The same view (sort of) but trying to stay abstract and just go for big color shapes. Not as easy as I thought. And as usual, I get too hung up in being literal. The colors seemed so obvious as I was watching the day end, but getting them mixed right, and placing 'em side-by-side, it quickly becomes evident that value is more important than color (well, until you get the value right, and then color becomes the issue). Ahhhh, so much to learn, so much to observe.

November 7, 2008

Hayes at Night

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

A quick study of the building across the street. More and more I'm realizing that I don't have enough, or the right kind, of lighting on my canvas and palette. It makes mixing colors difficult and this looked so different the next day. 

November 3, 2008

Vine Ripened

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

Trying hard to complete a "Carol Marine" type still life in under an hour. These are really fun to do, but I need to figure out how to control the lighting — not only on the subject, but on my palette, and on my canvas. So many variables!

November 2, 2008

Tomales Bay (revisited)

Acrylic on Canvas Board

I tried re-working the original study to improve the detail and composition, but I think the quality of light that actually inspired me originally is now gone.  I'd heard about this phenomenon, but haven't really experienced it before. And now I can't really remember what I wanted it to look like anyway. Hmmmm. My reference photos of this are terrible, and my memory and eye are not yet trained enough to remember properly. Some day. Maybe.

Oh, and the cow was in one of my reference photos so I thought I'd put that element in, but it doesn't really add anything for me.

October 27, 2008

City Hall Nocturne

Acrylic on Canvas Board 11 x 14 SOLD

Done from a photograph (viewed on my computer screen, not printed out) this shows City Hall in SF when they were displaying a simulcast of the opera on a big screen on City Hall. They had lots of orange lanterns hung up throughout the park.

October 26, 2008

Mission Angle 2

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

I used the previous painting as a guide and tried to get it to more simple abstract shapes.

October 23, 2008

Mission Angle

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

I thought I might try just a close cropped section of one of the buildings, trying to make the composition a little more abstract, while still including detail.

October 21, 2008

Mission Cross

Acrylic on Canvas Board 11 x 14 - SOLD
Another view of one of the missions. I've forced the perspective a bit (because I can) to try and get a better combination of reality and abstract composition.

October 20, 2008

Tomales Bay (study)

Acrylic on Canvas Board

This quick study was to try and capture the magical quality of light at the end of the day that I knew would not appear in the quick snapshots I took of the scene. Later I went back and painted this from photos, but it actually got worse!

October 19, 2008

Mission Tower

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

Not sure why I raked this at an angle, but that's how I photographed it, so I must have had a good reason. Right? I think the broken color and looseness of this one turned out better than most of the rest of the Mission series.

October 18, 2008

Mission View

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

Parts of the architecture look crooked, but that's how this mission looks. Really. Honest. It has been lovingly restored by a caretaker who lived there for years, and they were having a service when I was there.

October 17, 2008

Mission Palms

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

Only a hint of the Mission.

October 16, 2008

Mission Arch

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

The disadvantage to working from photographs is compounded when working from bad photographs! I liked the arch, but shot it with terrible exposure on a very overcast day. White arch, white sky. Not a great idea.

October 15, 2008

Andrea's Tractor

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Painted from a photograph of a miniature tractor I took at Jim's in New Mexico. I had painted this a while ago, but came back to it with some of the chop's I've developed over the past year or so. The composition is still horrible, but the quality of the painting is improved. Sorry I don't have the original to show the contrast. Just as well, really.

October 14, 2008

Pool Tree

Acrylic on Canvas Board

I painted this quick study later in the evening, and the air was getting cooler, so again, the paint behaved more like oil and wouldn't dry like it usually does.

October 13, 2008

Sacred Heart (study)

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

I had  a little left over paint on my palette and some time to kill, so I did a quick sketch of the church tower I can see from my apt. It's usually lit up quite dramatically, but it was pretty overcast so it was flat, and equally lit on the East and North sides. Just a fun exercise really.

October 12, 2008

Orange Flower

Acrylic on Cord Board

Thought I'd try a quick simple study of one of these flowers that came from the Divisadero Farmer's Market. Trying to resist painting petals, and just painting shapes, planes shadows etc.

October 11, 2008

Under the Umbrellas

Acrylic on Canvas Board  SOLD
Reading up a bit of Kevin McPhearson's book last night, so I'm trying to remember to paint the planes, which should be easy with an umbrella, while still incorporating his concept of "broken color", but it just seems more dappled here.

October 10, 2008

Yellow Porch

Acrylic on Canvas Board

On location in Sonoma with my dad again. Trying to stay loose is challenging with so many architectural shapes. So, I tried to speed things up and finish this in an hour. No such luck. I think it was closer to two hours, and not really what I'd call finished, though I doubt I'll go back to it. I just don't think the composition really works.

October 9, 2008

Two Barns

Acrylic on Canvas Board

On location in Sonoma again. The light here was great, but as usual, constantly shifting.

October 8, 2008

Blue Umbrellas

Acrylic on Canvas Board - (Destroyed)
On location at C. Donatiello, a local winery with my dad. We got there early, and started painting before the staff arrived. When they did arrive, the first thing they did was park right in front of where my dad was set up, blocking the view he was painting. Then they looked at his painting, with no thought to moving the car, looked at my painting, and then opened all the umbrellas. Ha!

October 6, 2008

Driveway Trees 2

Acrylic on Canvas Board

That big tree from the other angle. Trying to stay very loose and just capture the light and shadow areas.

October 3, 2008

Driveway Trees

Acrylic on Canvas Board

So much looser than last year. Maybe too loose for some, but I'm liking the tones and shadows in the trees.

October 2, 2008

Three Umbrellas

Acrylic on Canvas Board Ω
Back up North and by the pool. Definitely a little looser than last year's attempts. That tree still looks kinda flat though.

October 1, 2008

Fiery Hills

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Out in the fields, trying to capture that sunset glow. The sky is too blue for this time of day, and it contains none of the orangey light. The hills are too cheese doodle orange. One of the major problems is that I think I finished the sky early and as the light shifted, and I was working on the hills, I didn't go back and check the sky. 

I may rework this one to make it more congruous. Maybe.

September 30, 2008

Twin Palms

Acrylic on Canvas Board (destroyed)
Out on the street in Sonoma, I'm discovering I'm more drawn to trees than houses.

September 29, 2008

Brick Hotel

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Joining the Monday Morning Painters group with my father, we painted on location in Santa Rosa's Historic Railroad Square.  I edited out all the parked cars, but the composition is now missing something. Guess I could've left a few in there.

September 27, 2008


Acrylic on Canvas Board

Spooky moody day at the beach.

Now, not only was there no shade, and constantly shifting lighting conditions, but the wind really picked up and the sand went everywhere – in the paint, under my paper palette, in my face. 

What surprised me most was a bunch of Dutch tourists came by to look at what I was doing, nodded and smiled, and  then decided to plop down right in the foreground. I mean, they saw what I was painting, and with the whole deserted beachfront they just had to sit there. Apparently I chose not to paint them.

September 26, 2008

Alamo Square

Acrylic on Canvas Board

A nice, but windy, day in the park. This seemed so colorful as I was working on it outdoors, but now it looks kinda dull. I'm still not used to that shift.

September 25, 2008

Valley Vista

Acrylic on Canvas Board

On location in Sonoma, looking off to the hazy hills in the distance.

September 24, 2008

Lime Trio

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Another attempt at a Carol Marine style still life.  I'm trying to do Carol's approach of mixing the right color first, and then applying it decisively in a firm brush stroke, and aiming to define the planes. Kevin McPherson has a lot to say about this method as well. I highly recommend any of his books, which you can find on his site, or on

I need to do a LOT more of these! The deceptively simple arrangement reveals all the shifts in color and lighting.

September 23, 2008

Apple and Limes

Acrylic on Canvas Board

I've been watching Carol Marine's "Painting A Day" blog for a while now (it's where I got inspired to do a blog after all) and thought I'd try a simple still life similar to what she usually demos. Well, three green orbs proved to be more complex than I thought. I also did not follow her method (which I discovered later watching a video demo of hers) and instead flailed about. It was fun though. I need to do more of this type of thing.

September 22, 2008

Hayes House Bananas 2

Acrylic on Canvas Board Ω
Plants and buildings again. This one was painted outside, but at a later date, I went back and tried to loosen things up a bit and add back some energy. Sorry I don't have a photo of the "before" version.

September 21, 2008

Hayes House Bananas

Acrylic on Canvas Board

On location in the back yard. I really like the shapes and colors in this plant, and the building is a nice boring background. I just wish I could have kept things a bit looser. There's no real focus when everything is so focused and angular. I'll definitely do more of these.

September 20, 2008

Blue Scaffold

Acrylic on Canvas

I'd painted this small canvas completely black ages ago.

I was doing some color testing/mixing to see what the various blues I had randomly collected looked like when diluted with white. It's been a long time since I'd done any color charts!

Anyway, I had a palette covered with daubs of various blues, so I decided to use them in a quick sketch of the scaffold outside my window.

September 19, 2008

Red Pickup

Acrylic on Canvas Board (repainted in 2011 - this version is gone)

This one's pretty big, in size. I was being too stingy with the paint at first until I adjusted to the size. I was still trying to blend areas instead of carefully mixing beforehand and applying. I need to practice that a lot more. It's also hard resolving that the mind says "red" but the eye sees pink/grey. Fun fun fun.

September 18, 2008

Fulton Street

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Finally a San Francisco street scene! This one still needs work, but I'm not sure I'll ever return to it, so I'm posting it as is. That fire hydrant has to go! I keep forgetting that in "painting what I see and not what I know" doesn't mean I can't edit things out.

September 17, 2008


Acrylic on Canvas Board

From a photo of a great looking set of wheels in Golden Gate Park.

September 16, 2008

Oyster Shack

Acrylic on Canvas Board Ω
Just a quick sketch of an old storage shed. Not enough variance in color, and the high contrast shows it was done from a photo. I may revisit this and rough things up.

September 15, 2008

Front Porch 3

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Not as successful as the previous one. Again, I'm becoming too rigid. It works well as an "illustration" of the scene, but has no real excitement or loose painterly qualities, except for that highlighted tree in the middle/top.

September 14, 2008

Front Porch 2

Acrylic on Canvas Board

A looser version of the front of the house. Cooler shadows blurry branches, and more than just white on the surfaces. It was interesting to notice that the terra cotta path really does reflect a lot of pink onto the entryway walls.