Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fine Art on TV

I can honestly say, among with many other artists, that some of my first memories and desires for art came from watching it on TV. I didn't grow up in museums and galleries, or have lavish coffee table books showing the masters, my introduction to the arts came from Bob Ross and other "craft" painters on air Saturday mornings. Now, I'm in no means elevating Bob Ross's technique or saying that his landscapes are examples of exemplary art, but to a 10 year old, watching him carve out a mountain, or make glassy flat water was enough to get me excited about creating something myself. Those few sparks, along with other influences like my parents, grandparents, and school friends, are what most likely steered me toward this life I'm living.

I've always thought that art, and in particular, the making of art, is such an interesting thing, and completely different for each artist. Now a days I get my watching fix from the painting dvds of Scott Burdick, Jeremy Lipking, Burt Silverman, David Leffel, Casey Baugh, Richard Schmid, and others (My bookshelf is getting pretty full). But for those millions of average viewers and aspiring children that don't know about these "insider" videos (let alone finding the money to buy them), there still isn't much out there except for some old re-runs.

All of the above to simply say - "I think there should be more".

One glimmer of hope is a show titled "Star Portraits." This show originated from the BBC in Europe and is now airing on Bravo Canada (new and improved with a new host). Sadly I can't get this here in Connecticut, but thanks to YouTube and the rest of the internet, we can all get an episode or two. The show combines a Star personality with three portrait painters who battle it out for two weeks. In the end, the Star picks their favorite and gives some money to a charity. The viewer leaves inspired, enlightened, and very interested in next weeks show.

Here are a few links I found:

The old BBC Show: YouTube
Bravo Show:
Trailer: YouTube

Monday, November 23, 2009

Putney Painters and Friends

This past weekend, I stopped by Susan Powell Fine Art for the reception of their current show "Putney Painters and Friends". The Putney painters, if you don't know already, are a group of painters that regularly meet and paint under the guidance of master artists Richard Schmid and his wife Nancy Guzik. I had the pleasure of meeting many putney painters and local artists -- including the amazing floral painter Kathy Anderson, and Katie Swatland, who continues to get better and better with each new work. The gallery was unbelievably packed and was a testament to not only the success of the gallery and painters it represents, but also the renewed interest in representational painting. The below paintings are a few of my favorites. Check out Susan Powell Fine art on Artnet to see the rest of the show.

Kathy Anderson
Catnip and Cosmos

Dennis Sheehan
Early Winter

Rosemary Ladd
Birch Bark Nest

John Kilroy
Next to Godliness

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Moment's Beauty

Over the past month, I have been showing some work at Beardsley Fine Art, in their "A Moment's Beauty" group show. The Reception was this past weekend, and I had the pleasure of meeting many of the other artists as well as collectors and art lovers from the area. Beardsley gallery is a fairly new gallery that pride themselves in showing only the best of today's representational art.

In a short time, they have begun representing some of the biggest names in art, including Burton Silverman, Glenn Harrington, Dennis Sheehan, and many others. It was an honor to be a part of the event, and hope this is the start of a long-lasting relationship with both the gallery and the other artists. (By the way, that stunning lady next to me is my wife - and model)

Burton Silverman

Glenn Harrington

Katie Swatland

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sargent and the Sea

My brother and I had the opportunity to visit the Corcoran Gallery this last weekend to see the John Singer Sargent exhibition. Seeing the scrapbooks and sketch books of Sargent, along with the hundreds of framed drawings, was a very humbling experience. The amount of work Sargent devoted to just the above painting (En Route pour la pêche) involved numerous sketches and then individual studies of each figure (all from life, without using photography and probably having to pull a lot of things from memory for the final painting). If I was limited to those conditions and needed to devote that amount of time for constructing a painting, the quality of my work would have never been equal to even the lesser painters of that time and I would only paint a few paintings a year. John Singer Sargent isn't just a Master because of his finished paintings, but also because of his devotion and work ethic to develop and construct the paintings that dominated the art world of that time.

Below are more works from the exhibition and their collection. If your anywhere near DC, get over to the Corcoran (it's also right next to the White House and the other national monuments, making it a perfect day for sight seeing).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Painting Demo - Part 3

Here is the last of my painting demonstration. The below pictures take you through the final steps of refining the skin tones and the background. I wouldn't consider the below final, because after taking a few days away from it, I always find things to touch-up and re-do.

At this stage, I warmed up the skin tones on the back and the left arm (mostly in the darks). Although my reference photos seemed to be producing that almost purple tone, the colors were looking a little muddy and out of the norm (remember, nobody is ever going to see the reference photos, just the painting). I also started with the hand and a little more dabbling in the background.

Not much to be said here, just working my way out . . . trying to be "brushy" and soft edged.

Apprehension, 24 x36 - Here is the the "final" painting. If I make any major changes, I'll post an update, and if you see something that looks off, or needs fixing, let me know.

Update: After some time away from the painting, I felt that the neck/jaw line could use some editing. Although the source material was as I originally painted it, it didn't do the model (nor my painting) the justice it deserves. Below is the Final painting - at least till I find something else to fiddle with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oil Painters of America Paint Out

Below are some pictures from the New England area paint out for the OPA. There were about 12 of us up in New Hampshire for the day, I was able to fit in two oil sketches, some lunch, and some great conversation before I had to make the long drive home. Below are a couple pictures of myself that a local photographer took, and then some pictures of the other artists.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Painting Demo - Part 2

Here is the continuation on my painting of Kelly. (I haven't named this painting yet, so if you have a good suggestion, just add it as a comment).

At this stage, I added more detail to the face and neck, and then started the darks of the hair. Also, you will see that I added a warm tone to the dress, this is intended to show through the darks of the dress to add some color variations and luminosity.

Here, I have added the main details to the hair and continued to refine the skin tones and edges.

I then moved down the back fixing the values and colors, and getting most of the painting done in the dress.

Working my way out, I work on the arms and some of the background. I'm really trying to be as accurate with as little strokes as possible as I move out of the main focal point. I want the exteriors of the painting to be very "brushy" and soft edged.

More to come soon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Painting Demo - Part 1

This is a demo of a painting I started about a week ago. I am further along than the below pictures, so I will post Part 2 shortly. The painting is 24 x 36 stretched linen and I'm working from two photos combined in photoshop (foreground and background). For the best color, when painting from photos, I work off my computer screen -- the colors are truer because it is light producing the colors instead of pigments.

I started with a basic drawing, making sure everything was located in the right place and focusing on the details of the face. The drawing took about 3 hours. I then lightly sprayed it with some fixative and then toned the canvas using a mixture of Transparent Oxide Red and Ultramarine Deep.

Next, I did a block-in of the key features. Using mainly the local color of the area, I just wanted to get enough down so I can make the correct color judgments when I do the final strokes. I used a large hog bristle Signet brush for the block in, mixing the paint with some medium to keep it translucent -- this way I'm keeping some of the canvas and tone showing through the strokes.

I start right into the eyes, forehead and nose, slowly adding more detail and surrounding color. This is about 4 hours of work from toning the canvas to this point. Drawing accuracy and color is always in the front of my mind, if something is wrong, I scrap the whole area down and start over again (I did the eye twice and the nose three times)

More to come in the next day or two.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Southwest Art - 21 Under 31

I have been selected for this years "21 under 31" emerging artists issue of Southwest Art. The editors picked my painting "Katie" for the article and there is a Q&A section beside.

Make sure you grab an issue--there are some other great artists (my favorites: Kyle Stuckey, Katie Swatland, Julio Reyes, and Daniel Keys), and an article about plein air painter, Brent Jensen.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Palette

Over the next month I will try to be more informative about my painting technique (just in case someone might be able to learn something). The below post is a list of my tools, and then in the near future, I will also document a painting so everyone can see the steps and amount of time it takes to create a "studio" painting.

Oil Paints:
A. Gamblin Titanium Zinc White (this is a great white that has a great blend of opaqueness and transparency) - If I'm not using this, I also revert to just Zinc white
B. Cadmium Yellow Light - I'm trying out the Utrecht brand because of price and it is fairly close to the Winsor Newton that I usually use
C. Yellow Ochre Light - Rembrandt (Rembrandt paints have a great consistency out of the tube, but after a few hours, they tend to get "plasticy", so I only put a little on my palette at a time to keep the paint fresh)
D. Cadmium Red - Winsor Newton (Best brand of paint in my opinion, so I try to stick with it for the reds, but it is much more expensive than the others)
E. Alizarin Crimson - I like both the Winsor Newton and Gamblin brands
F. Terra Rosa - I rarely use this color, but there are key times when mixing flesh tones that it is the purest way to get a reddish hue to the checks and nose
G. Transparent Oxide Red - I used to use Burnt Sienna, but this color is far more transparent which is always something I'm looking for. This is without a doubt the color I go through the most--it seems to find it's way in almost all color mixtures.
H. Viridian - The green. You can usually get any green from this . . . it is on the blue side, so I add a lot of yellow when painting grass and trees.
I. Cerulean Blue - This is one of those colors that are not necessary, but it is always so close to the color of the sky when landscape painting, and it "kills" a flesh color so well, that I keep it on my palette so I don't have to mix it every time.
J. Cobalt Blue light - I don't use this much, but it is a very pure blue and is helpful when I don't want something to get to purple.
K. Ultramarine Deep - My second most used color. All warm and cool blacks usually start with this as the base, and this is used to create a lot of my greys.
Other Paints: I use a variety of yellows depending on the situation, in addition to the two above I also use Lemon yellow, cad yellow medium, and Yellow ochre medium. Sap green is the only other color that is not on my studio palette but I bring it with me when landscape painting. It is much closer to most foliage and I do a lot less mixing when I bring it along.

L. Silicoil - (has a little spring coil inside that is more gentle to the brush hairs than a mesh brush cleaner) - usually filled with art grade mineral spirits (and sometimes turpentine - I don't really care which)
M. Medium in Palette cup - Schmid mixture: 1 part stand oil, 1 part damar, and 5 part mineral spirits. I use this to initially thin down my paints. It adds a very "liquid" feel to a painting and stops any "chalking" of the more opaque colors. Once I add it to a paint mixture, the mineral spirits evaporate fairly quickly, so if I go back to it, I generally dip my brush in the mineral spirits to get it back to the consistency I like (which is fairly thin, slightly thiner than softened butter - more like elmers glue)
N. 3.5-4" blade - For cleaning off the palette and for creating fine lines in a painting (I found it works much better than a palette knife, it is stiffer and you can place it just the way you want)
O. Sable Rounds - Various brands (you get what you pay for) ranging in sizes from 2-8
P. Langnickel 5590 - Sizes 6-30 (they must have their own sizes because normally a 30 would probably be gigantic, but it is comparable to a 10 flat in the Signets below) - the brushes of choice for most of the major painters today (Schmid, Lipking, Baugh, Burdick, Gerhartz . . .) An absolutely great brush that creates beautiful strokes and effects. The hairs are very light, so they take some getting used to.
Q. Robert Simmons Signets - Flats 6-12 - I use these for all the block-ins and when I want a very transparent, brushy look
R. Palette Knives - the cheaper of the Italian brands, but they have held up for the last five years. I have a size 6 and 10
S. My Palette - Tempered glass glued to a light-grey spray painted masonite board. 16x20 (I also have a plein air setup with a home-made guerilla type box. Maybe I will show that some time in the future)
T. Paper Towels - Viva towels from Kleenex - not just because Schmid uses them, but because they really are the best for painting.
U. Claessens Oil Primed linen - From Utrecht, either 820 or 13J. Mounted onto Gatorfoam for plein air and small paintings, stretched over bars for larger studio paintings.

Ok, that's pretty much it. I do have some cheap, really large brushes from the painting section of home depot for those really large block-ins, and I have a bunch of miscellaneous tools like canvas pliers and such, but I assume everyone has stuff like that. Stay tuned for more over the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Britain Museum of American Art

I recently visited the New Britain Museum of American Art. It is a great space here in Connecticut and has a surprising collection of representational painters and Illustrators. Saturday mornings are free admission (although it's worth the money anytime). Below are some of my favorites from their permanent collection. If you are ever in the Hartford area, make some time for this great place.

John Singer Sargent - Miss Cara Burch (1888)

John Singer Sargent - Tarragona (1908)

Robert Henri - Spanish Girl of Segovia (1918)

N.C. Wyeth - Illustration from Treasure Island (1911)

Maxfield Parrish - Dusk (1942)

Childe Hassam - Le Jour du Grand Prix (1888)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Self Portrait

I recently purchased a drawing video showcasing Burton Silverman, a true fine art master of our day and an illustration master from yesterday. He uses this toned paper and white and black charcoal a lot, so I wanted to try it out with my own twist.

I have been trying to focus on drawing lately. Back in art school, you draw for hours each day and for the years that I have been out of school, I have been trying to squeeze as much painting in as possible that I forgot how great it was to just sketch and draw (you don't have to worry about dry time, or stretching canvas, or setting up your work area . . . . you just grab a pencil and go).

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Lemons were on sale at the grocery store this week, so I bought a bag for making some homemade lemonade. I saved these three from the juicer and was able to paint lemons while I was drinking lemonade.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yale Crew

The Yale Crew boat house is a few minutes away from us, and a couple weeks ago, I was able to ride along with the coaches during a practice. This is a painting of one of the members who came to get some extra rowing in before practice. He was just coming back to the dock when I got there and this was the first shot that I took (I told him I was just setting up my camera, but I really liked this picture – I hope he won't mind).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Double Profile

This is a painting of my wife, Bryana. Luckily she is so understanding, letting me paint till late at night, spending time with a photo of her, instead of the real thing. This painting is 14 x 20 and mainly done for a competition. Hopefully I win, but if not, at least I got a good painting out of it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Putney VT

I had the opportunity to go up to Putney this Saturday. I met Captain John (from Richard Schmids Video, The Captains Portrait), and got to take a look at "The Barn", the home of the Putney painters. In between the rain, I was able to paint two landscapes, the first took about 2 hrs, the other was limited to an hour and a half because of the wind and rain.