June 30, 2009

Resting Rower

Acrylic on Canvas Panel

The next Different Strokes from Different Folks assignment.

Oi, Karin got me painting women in red bathing suits again! I will not go the topless route this time. I decided to crop way in to try and get some pleasing abstract shapes to start with. I had a pretty loose start that I liked, but them I moved to the small brushes too soon and it became a bit fussy. I will be trying this again.

June 29, 2009

Red at the Market

Acrylic on Canvas Panel Ω
Everywhere I go in Northern California I see another old red truck. This one's at the Farmer's Market in Healdsburg. Finally I've painted one a bit warmer. It's the thing that was always missing from my other red truck paintings. (the photo here is not as warm as the painting is).
The first person I showed it to couldn't understand why I put those snowy mountains in the backgroun. They're actually the umbrellas and tent tops of the market.
This reminds me of something Tim Horn said about, that even though you should strive to paint what you see, sometimes it's more important to make things "read" better so that the viewer can immediately understand what it is they're seeing, what's in front of what etc.
I may give this another go, but I'm not sure how I'd change the background, other than eliminating it.

June 28, 2009

Gringo Nicasio

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches  NFS
My dad sent me this photo of myself at the ranch where we took Tim Horn's workshop. So many compositional no-no's but it just seemed right, so I painted a quick sketch. I think I'm finally starting to get some more warmth in the sunlight areas.
The one color I'm finding terribly difficult to mix from my 3-color limited palette is that California sky color. I mean, the sky is just blue and white, but I fear it's a different blue than I'm using. I did some charts comparing the various blues I have, but of course, I can't find it anywhere.

June 27, 2009

Black and White

Acrylic on Card Stock

I couldn't wait to try this out with the limited palette. There's a bit in Kevin's book where he talks about the effect of light on a spotted cow and the way that dark blacks in sunlight will be lighter than whites in shadow. I don't think I'm demonstrating that all too well, but it was fun and challenging to paint a black-n-white without any black paint.

June 26, 2009


Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 5 x 7 inches SOLD

Still working with that 3-color palette (and lovin' it), I'm trying to fit in some regular human figure paintings each week. Enough with the barns already.

This is a from a shot of a little girl I know (I think from her birthday party), though oddly enough it could easily be mistaken for a pic of one of my nieces. It's only 7x5 inches, and I kept to medium brushes, so there's not really enough detail to reflect any real distinguishing features. And that's what I had in mind all along. I'm just trying to reflect a simple gesture of a person.

And since it's in Golden Gate Park, I still get to include trees!

June 25, 2009

Telegraph Building

Acrylic on Canvas Panel

This is an interesting building in my neighborhood. I think it was an old telephone branch, but I can't seem to find my notes. I'll update if they turn up.

I just wanted to do a quick study to capture the quality of light and see if this is something I'd like to do on location.

June 24, 2009

River Abstract

Acrylic on Card Stock SOLD
I've been experimenting with the minimal 3-color palette and am amazed at the colors I can produce with just that. I did this piece using the various puddles I'd mixed in testing out colors. It's a reinterpretation of one of my swimming hole pics.

June 23, 2009

Veggies 3

Acrylic on Canvas Board

OK. The last go at this one. I tried again to warm things up. Mostly the corn and the onion. I'm seriously doubting the lighting in my studio because I really did warm things up but when I got around to photographing the results I was less than impressed.

The other thing I tried to improve was the 3-dimensional qualities of the corn ears. They're warmer but still don't really look round. I know part of this is trying to mimic the photograph instead of using the photo as a reference, but I just don't have enough experience painting corn to bridge the gap.

June 22, 2009

Walking with Umbrella

Acrylic on Canvas Board - NFS
I've had this photo of my dad I've been meaning to paint for ages, so in honor of father's day, I did.
I've been having trouble with mixing colors and my palette in general lately, so I took a look back at Kevin Macphearson's book "Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light and Color" and it finally hit me. I'm going back to basics and only using 3 colors (cadmium red, cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue) and white.
I don't even remember how I wound up with my mixed up selection of colors, but after the last workshop and the frustration I had doing those vegies for DSFDF, I've decided I'd better learn how to mix my own colors from now on.

June 20, 2009

Veggies 2

Acrylic on Canvas Board

I decided things were too cool (and I'd really rushed out the first version of this). So I decided to warms things up and try and get that glow thing to happen. After a while, I stopped and went out for dinner. When I came back I was horrified. I'd managed to warm up the background and a bit of the tomatoes, but everything else was cooler than a few days ago. I'd really like to blame something like the lighting, or my paints, but sadly, I really need to go back to some basic mixing lessons. Chart, charts and more charts. 

I will not be posting charts, I promise.

June 18, 2009

Tiny Mission

Acrylic on Postcard - 4 x 6 inches   SOLD
I know. I know. I said I was going to be working bigger, but I was a little crunched for time today and just wanted to keep the flow going. I also wanted to see if I could apply a little of what I'd learned about warmer colors in sunlight etc.

June 17, 2009


Acrylic on Canvas Board

I got completely sidetracked this month and almost forgot to paint the Different Strokes subject. With a sandwich on my desk and an hour on the clock I just jumped on in. What seemed like 10 minutes later the alarm rang. Grabbed the camera, snapped the shot, ran it through my Photoshop droplet after cropping and then off to Karin, just under the gun.

Go have a look at some of the great variations on the DF site. The range of different approaches is truly astonishing.

June 16, 2009

Bolinas Boats

Acrylic on Canvas Board

I was going to make this a three part series, but I think I'd better stop here. Anything I'd do at this point would probably start ruining it.

I think I wound up getting too fussy and moved to the small brushes too soon. 

June 15, 2009

Bolinas Boats (dark under painting)

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Another couple of firsts for me. Posting an example of a dark underpainting to show all the dark shapes and trying to connect them as much as possible, and working on a piece in more than one sitting!

Oddly enough, for me the most interesting shape is the negative space of the light-reflecting water in the foreground, and the way it's carved out of the darks.

I did this sketch before studying with Tim. He actually paints his dark shapes in with Ultramarine Blue. Makes sense with his technique of pushing his shadow areas toward cool colors. I've been adopting this practice as of now, and will see how it affects my work going forward.

I'm going to work on this tonight and post the next stage tomorrow.

June 14, 2009

The Creamery 3

Acrylic on Panel

Well, a bunch of firsts for me. I never go back to a painting after the first sitting. I usually just move on and start anew. I also don't go back and do major color correction on an image.

However, in light of what I learned last weekend, I decided to go back over this image with some of my new warmer paints and and newly gained knowledge about color.

The last version was such a simple series of puzzle shapes that I thought it would be easy enough to just replace the major blocks of color and see how warming up the sunlit areas might change the overall impression.

Not a huge shift, but it did seem to create a better contrast to the cooler shadows. I also pushed the distant hills more to cooler, lighter tones, and warmed up the foreground and near hills.

As an aside, the reception at Apollo went exceedingly well last night. Lots of friends and family and even some of the public at large. Managed to sell a few more and kept the place open past closing. I think my "manager" may have worked out a deal for more of the same in December. 

Thanks to all who came and made it a special night.

June 13, 2009

The Creamery 2

Acrylic on Panel

I really didn't want to paint this again, but learned a lot from Tim's demo of this subject ( a demo he didn't enjoy very much, but wound up selling to my father anyway). Also, with the lack of warm tones in my palette, I thought I'd stay away from anything with too much scenery in it.

Another interesting observation came out of this. A bunch of us looked at the distant hills, trying to determine their value. Someone suggested they were the darkest thing in the scene. I mean they're really dark forest green. But as we stared directly at them, them seemed to lighten up before us, and turn a pale blueish purple. Interesting. Not sure why I chose to ignore this observation and paint 'em green though. More learning through failure!

Off to the reception for my not-at-all-warm collection at Apollo tonight. Should be fun.

June 12, 2009

Moore's Barn

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

Trying to keep it simple, and get those warm colors in. I think there's too much going on in the foreground. It just steals focus from the barn, and it's still way too cool in the sunlight areas.

June 11, 2009

The Creamery

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Still struggling with the lack of truly warm colors in my palette, I sketched the white stuccoed out building, trying to keep everything in the sun "warm" with everything in shadow "cool". It actually looks better indoors than it did in the field. 

June 10, 2009

Barn Sketch

Acrylic on Panel

The first sketch out at the ranch in Nicassio. I didn't spend a lot of time with the forms/shapes, but rather I kept going back and adjusting the colors. I had this way too cool throughout, and even after some helpful nudging and mixing again and again, it's still just plain dull all over. I was glad when the lunch bell rang, 'cause I was not enjoying this at all.

June 9, 2009

Pool Lounge

Oil Pastel on Paper

Back from a great workshop weekend with Tim Horn, and boy did I learn A LOT! Turns out I just didn't have enough warm colors in my palette, and warm California landscapes is what Tim is all about. I was pretty well used to the idea of painting cooler shadows, but I didn't realize that most of everything I've been painting up until now has been cool throughout. Kinda shocking really. 

Actually, a lot of the photos I've been painting from were taken during our gray winter days, and sometimes even grayer summer months. (When asked what he does when faced with a gray day, Tim said "I stay home"). But now a whole new world of color values and comparisons has been opened to me. I ran right out to Blick's and got loaded up on some warmer yellows and oranges. (No wonder I could never get those tangerines to look at all appetizing).

I think I may have learned more than others in the workshop, because I was continually failing. One of Tim's guidelines for the weekend was to not to try to bring home any finished pieces but to rather practice what he was explaining and create a bunch of studies. I think I managed quite successfully to not bring home ANY finished paintings at all! 

So keep an eye out for some new warmth around here, soon. I will post a few of the stinkers I did in Nicassio this weekend, and you'll be able to see what he was getting at. In the meantime, have a look at his site and see the great colors and warmth he achieves in his work. 

Here's a little sketch I did before the workshop. New works to follow ASAP.

June 5, 2009

Golden Gate Park Lavender

Acrylic on Canvas Paper

I shot a lot of photos during the Bay to Breakers, and this is a painting of one of the few without any scantily clad people in it. 

The two shows I have going are being received quite well, despite not being on the art walk map. I've already sold a few (love those red dots!). Get 'em while they're hot (dry?). The Divisadero Art Walk had the best turnout I've ever seen. I hope this means they'll have many more.

There will be a pause in the postings as I'm off to attend a workshop with Timothy Horn in Marin this weekend. His work is truly outstanding and I've been a big fan for quite a while. Hope I bring back some winners. More importantly I hope to bring back the knowledge.

Have a great weekend.

Oh, and it is Gringo's official state birthday today, so I'm not only getting better, I'm also getting closer to getting discounts at museums and on bus fares.

June 4, 2009

Return to the Hills

Acrylic on Canvas 

I told Apollo Coffee I'd whip up another big one for the show, since everything else there is mostly 4x6 and 8x10. 

This one is 20 x 24 inches, and I wanted to try to recreate the quick sketch I had done of "The Hills" a while back. I'm still not used to using oversized brushes yet, but I have experience with knife painting, so that's what I did. I mixed up some big puddles (a LOT more paint than I'm used to laying out) and trowelled it on.

It's OK, but doesn't have the same immediate quality that the original sketch had. I may finally have to cave in and try this with a huge brush after all.

Off to the Divisadero Art Walk tonight. (see yesterday's post). I'd go in disguise, but fortunately nobody knows who I am anyway, so no worries. I hope.

June 3, 2009

Late April Fools'

Fake Gallery Image

I've finally finished hanging the show at Apollo Coffee, and will get my daily painting back on track. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a humorous diversion.

No, this is not a shot from the show. It's a little online fakeroo, courtesy of Museumr, and I couldn't resist. Someday....

For those in the SF area, tomorrow is the June 4th First Thursday Divisadero Corridor Art Walk. It's not exactly monthly yet, but it is fun to go see. And I'm actually exhibiting at both ends of the art walk, though not officially on the map (talk to my agent).

June 2, 2009

Japanese Roof

Charcoal on Paper

This is from an old photograph I took while in Japan. I liked the roof poking about the tangle of growth and wanted to try sketching it before painting it. I think the hard part will be making the roof the focus of the painting, while 75% of it is dominated by plants. How to get the plants to read as plants, without stealing focus? Hmmm. Maybe I better rethink the composition.

Final Rest in Japan

Charcoal on Paper

Another glass, straight out of the tube color from paint found at garage sales, applied with the palette knife.

June 1, 2009

Golden Gate Park Meadow

Oil Pastels on Paper

Was enjoying the sun in the park, and had my oil pastels with me, so I thought I'd see if I could make 'em render the colors that I was seeing. I may have over emphasized the dark blue/purple shadows, but they are kinda interesting. I'm used to having a limited palette, but I'm used to being able to mix colors from that limited palette, not having to apply just one of 6 colors!