Tuesday, June 30, 2015


12x16 oil on panel

When I was growing up the National Geographic came like a bolt out of the blue each month. The photos made clear to me that the world was a very big place that I didn't know the first thing about. The wonder grew when my brother was given a globe for his birthday one year. Although our family was all about maps, seeing the globe gave me, for the first time, a sense of our planet, which implies spinning through space... infinitely more I didn't know about!

My brother and I spent time turning the globe and trying to pronounce the names of all the countries we had never heard of. We were taken by the vast swaths of luminous ocean that had been, for the most part, missing on the maps we had seen.  There was a slight relief to the continents that indicated where vast mountain ranges ran and depressions where camels struggled across punishing deserts. We spent a good amount of time running our hands and eyes over that globe.

Eventually the globe was placed on the top of the book shelf that my brother and I shared. At night I routinely looked up at it as I was going to sleep. Some nights it was a way of avoiding the shadow cast by the bed posts our twin beds that looked  EXACTLY like the boogie man. Other nights I simply looked at the globe and mused on how large the world must be and how tiny mine mine was. I wondered how I would ever get to the Amazon, to see those amazing Indians hunting barefoot in the jungle with blow darts.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Brilliant Disks

Brilliant Disks
18x24 oil on panel

A couple of years ago I painted a small version of this image that I really liked. As my brother took it home, he told me that he really looked forward to seeing me do it in a larger scale. When I was looking for a few images to paint in a large format recently, his words came floating back to me.

 I'm really glad for his advice, this painting leapt off my brush like it had been just itching to be big all along! 

The burnt sienna value drawing/underpainting

The very start of laying in color over the value drawing.  

The first layer of all color completed. Now I let it dry fully before beginning to make all the refinements and adjustments it calls for. 

Several days into the process of defining the way sunlight and shadow weave the gorgeous leaves of this plant together into a dramatic composition.

The final, completed image is at the top of the post.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mighty Mixmaster

Might Mixmaster
oil on panel, 12x16

My Vintage series is a fun balance to the Native plants that my most recent blogs have focused on. The Cactus Shadows series had become a bit hallucinogenic, and a few of you expressed concern for my mental, emotional and pharmacological state… I'm OK, and this happy little scene should put you at ease!

One of my dear sister-in-laws and I have a long standing annual date. We spend 1 day each summer at the County Fair. It began when we would take our kids to walk through the barns to see the chickens, goats and pigs and then dutifully sit at the bottom of one spinning ride after another. As the kids grew older, we began to slip into the exhibition halls as they enjoyed the midway. We combed the displays of doll houses made of match sticks, collections of beer cans, astonishingly beautiful woodworking, vests made of pop tops, exquisite quilts and needle point portraits of hamsters. The mix of inspiring next to horrifying is just up our alley. The kids are long gone, but we remain true to our date.

This proud Mixmaster was found in the cooking hall of last year's Orange County fair. Part of a display on a high shelf I loved the grouping, and the sleek power of the Mixmaster. It makes me think of Buicks with tail fins, beehive hair dos and Tang for breakfast.

I covered the panel with a thin coat of Burnt Sienna and then did a quick line drawing of the subject with my paint brush. Next I used paper towels and Q tips to lift the paint in the areas of light, and brushed in additional paint in areas of shadow. When I feel happy with the accuracy of the shapes and values I set the panel aside to dry.

Once the Burnt Sienna has dried I begin laying in the color, keeping true to the values I had established in the original drawing.

Painting the reflective surface of not only the Mixmaster but the corrugated metal behind it was a fun challenge.

The completed painting is at the top of the post. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cactus Shadows IV

Cactus Shadows IV
12x16 oil on panel
The fourth in a series, this painting examines the other worldly color combinations and shapes that cactus offer up.  Caught in the early morning desert sun, the arresting shapes of the cactus were accentuated by the shadows they cast on the broad, extraordinarily colored surfaces of neighboring leaves. 
The first step is the under painting where I work out placement and values
Laying in the first color. I look to capture the basic color of broad shapes, while adhering to the values I  established in my underpainting.
Now I slow down and begin to look for more subtle color and value changes. I build depth of color with glazes, dry brush and constant looking to see more and more detail. I continue to check for accuracy while trying to ultimately express what I found compelling about this specific sight.

The finished painting is at the top of the post.