December 16, 2011

Pagoda Reflections

Acrylic on Panel - 8 x 10 inches - sold
Finally caught up, with the challenge assignments. This week's challenge is  "Reflections on Water."
I'd painted this scene before, though much smaller and more quickly. I also put the pedal boat in this time, though I moved it to the right a bit for a better composition.

December 6, 2011

Red Shoes

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 18 inches - Click Here to Bid

Another Daily Paintworks Challenge – "Paint Your Shoes" – and even later than the last one. I'm really falling behind.

November 28, 2011

Toast Time

Still Life - Acrylic on Panel - 8 x 10 inches - sold

I'm running far behind in the weekly challenges, but I did a rough sketch of this so I went ahead and painted it anyway. Its for the "Paint Your Toaster" challenge, and this is my toaster. Toaster oven.

As Alton Brown says, there should only be one single function item in your kitchen and that's the fire extinguisher - everything else needs to multi-task.

I didn't think painting a shiny metal box would be any fun, but it was.

November 17, 2011

Yellow Cafe

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches - sold

A little late on last week's challenge, but since I'd sketched it out loosely already, I just went ahead and painted it. Tried to stay loose, and realized while doing this that it's easier to stay loose if there aren't so many dang people in the scene. I completely ignored a lot of the ones in the shadow, but there's still too many people for my taste (or laziness).
Too keep it from getting to frantic, I decided to use a fairly limited palette, and yes, I included black. I try not to use black, but I find it almost essential when painting from someone else's photos.  

October 31, 2011

Falta School

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 10 x 12 inches -   SOLD
The last of my on-site sketches from Sonoma, this is an old schoolhouse that apparently isn't used for much of anything anymore. I kinda ran out of time on this one, but then lunch waits for no man.

October 26, 2011


Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches   SOLD

I took a photo of this truck from the neighborhood a while ago and have been itching to paint it. It's amusing to me how many old faded trucks are in the neighborhood, because it's a subject I usually find in paintings from Sonoma. Go figure.

I'm not updating auctions this week, because I have a joint show with my father this weekend.
Posting and shopping will resume next week.

October 12, 2011

Copper Wave

Acrylic on Cardstock - 6 x 4 inches

Just a quick sketch while cleaning up. 

October 4, 2011

Beach Set

Acrylic on Panel - 8 x 10 inches  Ω

Did I mention how much I prefer painting clothing than nude figures. I thought I'd take some of my new knowledge about road surfaces to try and paint a beach scene. Since I was actually at the beach the other evening, I thought a backlit figure might be nice and took a few snaps. What I liked about this one was the dark figure on a barely there simmering beach with just a hint of the sun on the very top edges of the body.

I could see it so clearly in my head. A simple plain, a dark shape and a sliver of bright white between then. Oh, how deceptively simple. I had the figure near dark walnut and that seemed wrong because then there was not enough differentiation between the back and the hair. Then I made her lighter, but then there wasn't enough contrast between the figure and the highlight or the beach. I'm not kidding, but I think I went back and forth a dozen times. And it's still not right, but I got tired of struggling.

A few things I started to notice, as with the road surfaces the other day, was the subtle colors within what I thought was one color. The blues in the flesh turned furthest away from the sun, the red reflected up from the towel. Yet every time I put a hint of that in, it looked like way too much. It really helped in rounding the figure but I just couldn't abide such shocking color. Why is that?

October 2, 2011

Sixteenth Street

Acrylic on Panel - 11 x 14 inches -   SOLD

Back to new paintings...
This is from a reference photo I took while going down one of the many hills on 16th Street, heading back from Portrero hill.

I've been having a color problem with street surfaces lately, and this is a good example. Streets are paved with a material that is mostly gray, so streets are grey. However they are lit by the sun for they should be warm. So, they're tan. Except in the shadows, where they're blue. Argh.

I stood on the hill for a while and started seeing all sorts of colors up and down the hills in SF (which as you may know are often not parallel to the horizon). As clouds came and went and the sun darted in and out, I saw all sorts of colors. It almost looked funny. I mean, to have a long held belief that asphalt and concrete are grey, and then to be presented with such a range was kinda mind melting.

I think I managed to incorporate some of that here. The photo's not the best capture of the painting, and it looks completely different on three different monitors here. (Fully saturated colors are pretty easy to calibrate on screen, but these subtle shades are much harder and look very different when the shift by a few degrees).

September 30, 2011

Out Barn version

updated version
Acrylic on Panel - 7 x 11 inches  Ω

Another before/after. Not so wildly different this time, but I did want to try and warm things up. I thought I'd exaggerated it quite well, but now looking at the photo, it still looks kinda wintery. Hmmmm.

September 28, 2011

Kyoto Tea Garden

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches -   SOLD

In Northern California the things that change color from season to season do so in a different way, and it's different every year. I couldn't find any inspiration in my neighborhood, but I did dig up this pic from my last trip to Japan. They really enjoy orchestrating their tea gardens to showcase the seasons wonderfully.

September 26, 2011

Moore's Barn Revisited

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches - (destroyed)

I did this in the field while I was at a workshop with Tim Horn last year. I had forgotten to bring any real warm colors and though all the oil painters generously offered tubes, I just had to muddle on as best I could.

Today, I came across this in the back hallway and thought I'd try adding the warmth of a hot day in Sonoma, from memory! Well part memory, part theory and part fantasy. I don't think it's as strong a rendering in some ways, but it definitely reflects the feeling of warmth and atmosphere.

While I'm on a roll I may try a few more of these "updates".

September 24, 2011

Page House Blues

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24 inches -   SOLD

Found the original postcard I did for this piece and found I liked it better. Maybe it's the tone. That darkness that gives it a real mood. (enter "page house" in the search to find previous versions).

In any case I decided to try again, painting right on top of the old one. I also took out the second car. It just seemed unnecessary and constricting.

September 20, 2011

Winery Truck

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches -   SOLD

Last night I had a dream where a voice was telling me to use just the big brushes. Was it my subconscious? A muse? Who can say, but the message stuck with me today, on the last day of my trip.

I picked this scene at Lambert Bridge because it had a little bit of everything, and because I could set up in the shade. I sketched in the composition quickly, and then mixed up some puddles and just started slapping it on with the No. 10 brush (almost an inch wide). This way it really came together quickly and when I want to change something, I could do such just a quickly.

I'd already learned this before, usually toward the end of a good solid patch of painting, and yet I keep forgetting it. After a long break from painting, I come back with some odd obsession with little brushes and detail. Not sure why that happens, but I'll have to keep my eye on that.

Tool Tip: I was looking at iPhone apps the other day and found one called Digital ViewCatcher. I haven't explored all the features yet, but I did use it for the sketch on this piece. It let me set the canvas at 9 x 12 and then drag around to crop it just they way I liked. Then I allowed me to impose a grid overlay, which really made transferring this as my initial sketch really easy. Perhaps too easy. Hmm...

September 18, 2011

Pool View

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches -   SOLD

I always manage to fit in another view out by the pool. What can I say. It's a great place to hang out, even if you are painting. I am at least learning from past mistakes here.

For instance, I left out the fence until the very end. Usually I put it in right away and struggle around it and fuss over it the whole time. My plan was really to leave it out completely, like I wound up doing in the garden painting I posted earlier. However when I started to pack up, I thought I'd just indicate a few posts and rungs, and wipe 'em out if I didn't like 'em. Guess I liked 'em.

September 16, 2011

Winery Hills

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches Ω

Another typical criss-crossing series of hills. I seem to paint this every time I go North, but I think I'm getting a little better each time. It's just very frustrating to find yourself making the same mistakes again and again.

September 14, 2011

Annadel House

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches Ω

Well, I managed to include more of the landscape. Ha. I guess I just really wanted to paint architecture, or more accurately, the play of light and shadow on a sunny day in Sonoma.

This is such a great property, I could paint here every day for a month.

September 12, 2011

Annadel Cottage

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches - Click Here to Bid

Dean and Abigail at Annadel EstateWinery generously let my father and I tour their property and set up anywhere we liked. For some reason I chose to focus in quite narrowly on one outbuilding. We're coming back tomorrow, so maybe I'll include a little more of the landscape then.

September 10, 2011

Garden Path

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches -    SOLD

I recently got a chance to go up to wine country for a break, so sunnier images for the time being. You can feel the Summer coming to an end, but there's still plenty of blooms about.

September 4, 2011

Carol Marine II

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8x8 inches - (Bid here)

On review, I immediately knew how to fix this portrait. I mapped out my plan, set aside some time an charged right in. And then I made it worse. Horribly worse. Ugh.

Then I waited a few days and tried again. Even worse. Why couldn't I remember everything I'd learned about painting the figure from Craig Nelson and the many books I've read. Who knows.

Since I had nothing to lose, I thought I'd give it one more go. I did the upside down technique, which really helped me see the shapes, and tried to keep more color in the flesh that the white I thought I was seeing.

I think this did in fact turn out better, but what a struggle. Can't wait to paint some trees and barns again soon.

September 1, 2011

Bike Train Girl Vexes Me

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 18 x 24 inches

I posted a version of this ages ago, and wasn't too keen on the results. I mean, I know so much more now and thought I could show off. Boy was I wrong. I did learn a lot the hard way, by redoing this, but I just couldn't make any real progress. I actually think I like the original better at this point. Argh! The streamers are a nice touch though (and were in the original source photo).

August 17, 2011

Carol Marine

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 8 inches - (destroyed)

For this week's Daily Paintworks Challenge, David Maine declared an open challenge in honor of his wife Carol's birthday. I know Carol likes square canvases, so I went with that, and I hunted down a mugshot I hand't seen before.

I'm not really strong on portraits, but this one seemed to just "happen" and I'm not sure why. Must be birthday magic. I hope you-know-who likes it. Ahem.

August 16, 2011

Eel Mare

Acrylic on Cardstock - 6 x 4 inches

Another stream of consciousness image for my friends at Post Card Arts Gang. I was trying to see if I could create a lyrical expression with just two colors. First the paint went on in dabs, but then some brushstrokes displayed direction and motion, so I just followed that and expanded from there.

August 14, 2011

Bunny Ears

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches - SOLD

My mother has such a great garden, but one of the big hits this year is this little pot of "Bunny Ears". What I like most about them is the way they look when lit from behind. I tried to capture that, but I feel I fell a little short. Still, I like the looseness of the background.

August 12, 2011

Blue Chairs Again

Acrylic on Panel - 9 x 12 inches - sold

For some reason, the last blue chairs piece was quite popular. Someone asked me if I'd do another one, and luckily I was up North again this past weekend and did another one. As it goes with these things, I don't think it's as good, but we'll see what the market says.
As with the last one, my favorite part is not the chairs, but rather the shadows on the roof.

August 11, 2011

Blue Glass

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

When I'm not downing the pomegranate juice, I enjoy the occasional glass of Blue Sky soda. It's hard to find, but it's just like drinking a blue popsicle. Yum.

August 9, 2011

Lava Java

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches - Click Here to Bid

This weeks challenge from the Daily Paintworks is to paint your favorite mug for your morning coffee. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a morning person until I've had my coffee, and I don't drink coffee. So here's my favorite drinking glass brimming with pomegranate and what appears to be lava. Full of antioxidants and brimstone.

August 5, 2011

Flower Box

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4x6 inches - Check back soon for auction info.   SOLD

My latest submission to the Daily Paintworks Challenge. This week's theme is taking a black and white image and interpreting a black and white photo and rendering it in color, focusing on values.

Plants are green, pots are terra cotta and scenes outside the window are blue and green. Or are they?

I went a little wild with my interpretation, but then, that's what I like to do. I feel like I got the values right and in fact not too far off from scenes I've seen and experienced. I think.

July 26, 2011

Blue Chairs

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 10 inches - sold

Another sketch from my trip up North. My niece Isabel was painting with me and dad, and she asked if I was finished and if I liked this one. I said it was really just a sketch, and that though I was done, I didn't really like it all that much. She said that she did and asked to take it home. How could I say no.

July 21, 2011

Jazz Mood II

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

After finishing the previous two "jazz" paintings, I still had a little paint on the palette and decided to go for another while the mood was on. This one I did with a cheap and plentiful art tool... one of the many business cards I have lying about.

The stabbing and slashing motion of the card seemed to fit with the rhythm of the music better than a brush might. I don't know how one would attempt this at a larger size, but for a postcard it was ideal.

July 19, 2011


Acrylic on Cardstock - 6 x 4 inches

This is the companion piece to Madrone Jazz II, painted for the Daily Paintworks' challenge.
I did this in the middle of working on the other piece, as a sort of break, but also so that I'd be full into the moment of the piece of music.

When the album came around the second time, I swapped in this postcard and basically went to town with the color I was already using, keeping the theme of "hot" jazz and a hot club.

Madrone Jazz II

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 10 inches -   SOLD

This is a two-parter for the Daily Paintworks challenge. This week's theme is "The Color Of Music" where one is supposed to interpret a piece of music through use of pigment and rhythm of brush strokes.

Well, I did two. This one is the first, which is another view of the band I painted a while back. They were playing a smokin' hot version of E.S.P. from Miles Davis' album of the same name. I put that album on while painting this, natch.

I was gonna try the Andy Warhol thing of playing just one song over and over again, but I was not alone and figured no one else would find the experiment that interesting.

July 15, 2011

Bar Butterfly

Acrylic on Canvas - 18x18 inches - Click Here to Buy

Just finishing last week's Reflections Challenge from the Daily Paintworks. I found from painting the red bowls a week or so ago, that I do actually like working big. It took a while to get used to the amount of paint needed (and I'm still getting used to it) but I like being able to do big gestures with the brush strokes and stay away from the tiny brushes.

This painting is three times larger than the objects themselves. Someone walking by observed my progress only later to return and remark, "Oh, I didn't know they were so small."

July 12, 2011

Flamingo Farm

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8x10 inches -   SOLD

We stumbled upon this series of old buildings and ancient equipment well off the beaten path. A much quieter spot than yesterday. The color of the unknown vehicle in the middle was a really unusual flamingo color and immediately drew me in.

As an added bonus, my 9yr old niece joined us for the afternoon and she painted her own version. And she prefers oils – just like grandpa.

July 10, 2011

Wine Country Victorian

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8x10 inches - Sold

My dad and I set up by the side of the road, in the shade to paint a view of this great house. Turned out to be a really noisy road with a lot of big rigs ploughing through. We came up with very different paintings, which is always great to witness. I'll post a link to his if it ever makes it's way online.
Sigh. I'm already missing my week in Sonoma, now that I'm back in fog town.

July 9, 2011

Jill's Barn

Acrylic on Canvas Panel Ω
Had the opportunity to get out of town for a bit and head up North. This is a view near my folks' place, so the master himself has painted this often, so I thought I'd give it a go on my first day out.
It turned out OK, but confirmed that I'm having real trouble with my trees and not creating enough interesting or accurate colors there. I thought I was mixing wildly different tones here, but it just looks lazy and all too similar. Likewise with the brushstrokes.

July 4, 2011

Fairfax Revisited

Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I think is a better example of what I was trying to explain yesterday. The original was too blue throughout and now has areas of warmth and light.

July 3, 2011

Shadow Barn (update)

Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I found this old sketch in the pile while I was cleaning up today, and thought it looked too cool throughout. (originally posted in May 2209). I still had paint on the palette from yesterday, so I set about warming up the areas in direct sunlight.

The color isn't quite right, but the feel and tone seem much better.

It's really frustrating when something isn't working out towards the end of a session. You really just want the pain to end. But coming back to something that didn't work out is actually kinda fun.

July 2, 2011

Pool Garden 3

Acrylic on Canvas - SOLD
By making the colors a bit richer, especially in the paving, it lets the truly bright whites stand out a bit more. Still not sure I've sorted out the balance of foreground/middle/background. I know that using bigger looser brush work on the back should help, but not sure it's really working here, again, because of the lack of a strong focal point.
I know, I know. I could just add a figure, or a unicorn. A happy fuzzy unicorn. That's what Bob would suggest. I'm just not that guy.

July 1, 2011

Pool Garden 2

Acrylic on Canvas - 9 x 12 inches Ω
I decided to change the angle a bit, since all my reference photos turned out that way. I'm struggling to find a balance where the background is out of focus and not grabbing attention. However I realize I don't really have a focal point, so this makes it a bit difficult.
Also a challenge is the color of the cement. I know that it's a rich terra cotta, but it was such a sunny afternoon that it really looked pale and bright. Overall, I think the colors became a little too muted (especially compared to the initial sketch).
I'm going to give this another round. Stay tuned.

June 29, 2011

Pool Garden

Acrylic on Canvas - 9 x 12 inches Ω
Just a quick sketch outside in someone's garden over the weekend. Oh, how nice to be outside again. Definitely rusty. I took photos, so I'm gonna see if I can improve on this at home tomorrow.

June 21, 2011


Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 18 inches

For the last week's Daily Paintworks Challenge, (yes, I'm running a little behind in my work) Cathleen Rehfeld had us consider balance, both literally and figuratively. I thought I'd create a precariously balanced stack while keeping the colors in a related family.

18 inches squared is pretty big for me, but managed to lay out twice as much paint, use bigger brushes and work very quickly so that things stayed wet and manageable. I think I got it all in in under and hour, but I did go back this morning and add a bit more warmth to the top of the bottommost box's top surface. It just looked washed out and dull.

May 3, 2011


Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 7 x 12 inches

This is a portrait of some dude who's lived in my neighborhood for ages. I couldn't get him to sit for it, so I used a photo from one of those coin-operated photo booths. That's why the cropping is a bit unusual and why the lighting is pretty harsh and flat. It was kind of a sepia tone type photo, so I chose to paint it in that range. I might try a full color version, but I just don't have enough color memory to be able to guess at cool vs. warm areas.

April 27, 2011

Lupis Lapis - Study

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 5 x 7 inches

A secluded corner of a property I toured last fall. I've been meaning to paint it, but wasn't sure I could make a successful composition of the thing. Every time I tried to map it out, that turret wound up dead center. I rearrange a few items and finally it fell into place.

This is a quick study to see if it works out. I may do a larger version soon. Maybe.

April 26, 2011

Cel Break

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 5 x 7 inches - (destroyed)

This weeks challenge for the Daily Paintworks was submitted by Linda Popple, and is a photo from her last trip to NYC. I cropped in pretty tight since I was painting this relatively small.
Still really struggling with skin tones, and a little stingy with the paint, but it's not too awful. Ahem.

April 7, 2011

The N

Acrylic on Panel - 11 x 14 inches - sold

Had this photo kicking around for ages and finally got around to painting it. (Pretty deep, I know).

April 5, 2011


Acrylic on Panel - 5 x 7 inches   SOLD

For the latest Daily Paintworks Challenge, Carol Maine supplied a few photos from one of her trips to Germany, and posted some very nice renderings of her own as examples. Nothing like batting right after Barry Bonds.
I'm noticing I've developed a bit more of an economy of brush strokes when I try and follow Carol's approach of mixing colors carefully (well, more carefully than I usually do) and applying them with purpose.
I'm beginning to suspect that painting more vibrant and complimentary colors, while keeping the values accurate, tends toward a more interesting and gripping image.
I'm also noticing more and more that it can be helpful to push your colors more towards what inspired you to capture the scene rather than trying to mimic the limited tones in a reference photo. Take a look at some of the other artists results and you'll see what I mean. (mine's still somewhere between drab and colorful).

March 26, 2011

Pool House

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 8 x 10 inches

A return to one of my favorite subjects and once again, I've managed to crop it poorly and failed to capture the warmth of the afternoon in Sonoma. It's also fussier than I'd intended. Oh, well.

March 19, 2011

Madrone Jazz

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

I found myself at the Madrone one night, and this jazz band just showed up and started kicking it out. I did a bunch of quick sketches and took a few snap shots. I knew I'd have to try and "remember" a lot more than my sketches and snaps would reveal.

This was a quick stab at rendering a scene, but I can easily tell I'm missing a lot of the warmth that was there. Though an OK study, it just feels too cool and monochromatic. (which is nice if that's what one is going for). Guess I'll have to give this one another go. Bigger next time.