Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Group Painting - Encounter/Yellow Umbrella

A couple meet on a cold rainy day to talk briefly under a yellow umbrella. From the bright colored bag dangling from her hand, it appears she has been shopping in a nearby store. He carries a portfolio and a small bag over his shoulder. Perhaps he is on his way to a business meeting.

This painting is loosely based upon various photographs I took in Paris, France, last Spring (2008). I wanted the image to induce the feeling of a connection between the two figures. Yet it is only a brief encounter, since each has their own agenda. The yellow umbrella links the two together for these few moments.

I am trying to play down the individuality of the figures. I want the viewer to identify the people from their own imagination. The male figure's face is hidden. The female's face is only sketchy - enough to see she is please with the chance encounter.

The composition has been chosen to use a wide range of values, from the dark coats of the figures to the white of the distant light on this rainy day.

30 x 24 inches. Oil on canvas. Unframed with painted edges

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Pretty Baby, Another Painting Completed.

"Pretty Baby" is latest of my new group portraits in the soft story telling style of my recent work.

A young mother, while out walking, is showing off her baby to her girlfriend. The friend looks at the hidden baby with an expression of awe and perhaps mixed with other feelings.

While traveling in France during early 2008, I saw these young women near an open air café. I took several photographs from which this painting was derived.

For a while I thought the woman in green was the mother and the woman in black was the friend - and then I saw the wedding ring on the hand of the figure in black.

The most difficult task was to handle the details of the under side of the baby carriage. There was a lot of detail in the original photographs. It was necessary to simplify yet maintain a structural integrity so that it felt sturdy.

In the end, I used the long supporting posts as visual lines to draw the viewer into picture.

The baby is very present in the thoughts of the viewer, but not seen. The mother's face is hidden, but also is present in the tensions of the picture. Only the girlfriend's face is seen in detail and provides the source of energy to the viewer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Morning News - Another Painting Finished!

My latest painting "Morning News" (24 x 30 inches) has been finished and scanned. There seems to have been a host of events that have delayed its completion.

Among many things, we have had some work done in and around the house which has needed my attention away from painting. Also, I twice took the partially finished painting to my critique group who each time gave me good advice in steering the painting along more interesting lines of composition.

It is based upon some photographs I took along the streets of France, last spring. The three men are fairly close to the original situation, but the background, the wall and window signs, and the newspapers all came from imagination or other places.

I am happy with the outcome.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Portraits and the Sitter

An issue facing every portrait painter is the acceptance by the sitter of the finished result.

A recent article in the New York Sun by the London Daily Telegraph writer Neil Tweedie neatly sums up this dilemma.

Tweedie outlines various past and recent, famous and less famous portrait painters who have faced this situation. For some the subject just destroyed the work so others should not see it. For others, they eventually learned to lived with the finished painting.

I have just received back a portrait painting that I gave to a couple to celebrate their wedding. The wife has requested that I rework her nose.

I have another portrait that hangs near my studio awaiting the sitter to return for a final sitting. In this case the sitter is embarrassed that I chose him as a subject and so far has not been brave enough to view the nearly completed work.

The dilemmas of a portrait painter.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

After the Tour.

Well the Open Studios Tour is over. The summaries written and mailed in. And I am uncertain if it all was worth while.

Saturday we had only ten people come by. On Sunday twenty-nine. And that includes friends, family, and neighbors who saw my signs and dropped by. About of a third of the visitors were other artists who wanted to see how I do things.

There were no sales (I had some eighty paintings on show). There were three people who were serious enough to ask about prices. At least one of which seemed very interested in a specific painting.

Several of my visitors told me other artists they had visited had complained about the few visitors. Since the tour I have talked to several other artists who say they found the attendance thin.
Maybe it is a sign of the times. There has been a lot written recently about the slowness of the art market.

The general tour promotion seemed very good. I cannot suggest where improvements might be made. Even the reception was well attended, though I am not sure that I saw any serious buyers or collectors.

It takes a lot of work to put on such an event. At the moment I am discouraged about doing it again. But who knows how I will feel in six to nine months time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Busy Time - Getting Ready For My Studio Tour

Each Labor weekend I participate in the Santa Barbara Studio Artists Tour. Some 40 local professional artists open their studios so that art buyers and collectors may see how our art is generated.

I will be demonstrating how I develop a painting from multiple digital images - from choosing the source images, developing a composition, laying out my canvas, mixing my palette, to the production and finishing of a painting.

Come and visit my studio and gallery, and see how it is all done. View some of my recent work.

Next Friday evening (August 29) we will be having a reception at the local Arts Fund Gallery. There you will be able to see an example of each artist's work. Choose which artists you would like to visit and plan your tour for the following Saturday and Sunday (August 30 and 31).

Artists' Studios will open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m each day. The reception is from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

You may purchase maps ($20) at the reception, from any participating artist's studio – including myself, or online at the Santa Barbara Studio Artists website. At the website you may see a complete list of the artists and their work.

See you next weekend?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

August has been busy – Retrospective Exhibit

A few weeks ago I heard that a Featured Artist area at our local collaborative Gallery 113 had suddenly become available for the month of August, due to a cancellation.

I quickly signed up and pulled together "
A Retrospect of Figurative Watercolors on Paper." consisting of eight paintings from my own collection. They show examples of my work from the period of 1998 to 2001.

Today I mostly paint figurative artwork in oil on canvas. But earlier I created a large body of watercolor paintings on paper. This Retrospective shows selected early works reflecting examples of my evolving interest in the activities of people: the basis of my recent work.

Some works were painted “en plein air,” and finished up in the studio. Others are early examples of my current technique of painting from multiple photographs.

Also, at that time, I was beginning experiments with my palette to find a few light-fast pigments from
which to mix my colors. These investigations lead to the limited palette of my recent and current work with its colorful backgrounds and bold painterly details.

In some of these early paintings I began to introduced opaque gouache, the beginnings of my next period where I produced many paintings of gouache on board.

Above: "Feeding The Ducks," Watercolor and gouache on paper. 8-1/4 x 13 inches. June 2001. Painted en plein-air at Los Carneros Lake, Goleta, California.

A new crowd painting - from France

Last Spring we touring France, arriving in Avignon on a Saturday morning. The central square was full of young people sitting, drinking, talking, visiting with friends, or just viewing the activity at the many small tables spread outside the surrounding cafés.

The spring sunshine was warm and encouraging the Plain trees around the square to bud out to make a green and yellow arbor over the scene.

There are over a hundred people shown in the painting – most of them enjoying themselves.

As we joined the crowd, we sipped our own drinks and took photographs to record the event for this new painting: "Saturday Morning In Avignon," 24 x 48 inches, Oil on canvas. Unframed with painted edges.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Brush Fire Problems

It has been a difficult few days. A raging brush fire is just a couple of canyons from our house and studio. For two days we have been under an evacuation warning, sitting with most of our bags packed, ready to go at a moments notice. Others have been forced to evacuate already.

Eighteen years ago we were caught in another faster moving brush fire and had to evacuate with less than five minutes notice. At that time we lost the house and everything in it.

This time we have plenty of notice. But what do you take? I have probably two hundred paintings stored or hanging in the house and studio.

From the last fire we learnt that the most difficult things to replace are personal photographs. Images of the children growing up. Of our parents. Markers of our history. Almost everything else is replaceable. Today we live in a beautiful new and much more fireproof modern home - all paid for from the insurance money. We found that a large number of things we lost really we never did use, and we did not replace. And, those we needed were only things!

This time the first into my car were our personal photographs. Followed by our medications, a change of clothes, just a few simple things. We put the cars in the driveway, ready to go. We have lost power several times over the last few days, making opening the garage doors an issue.

Over the last twenty or so years our computers have become more and more important as a depository of our life's records. A few weeks ago I was solicited for an off site computer backup service ( I use an external hard drive to back up my computer, but with the prior fire in the back of my mind, I have always been nervous of having bothe the original and the backup in the house. The outside service is a division of one of the largest backup organizations in the business. The service cost me $200 for two years. I have about 125GB of data to back up. It took about three weeks to upload all the data the first time. Now changes and new data upload in about half an hour at night. With the new fire, that is peace of mind.

This morning, things look a lot better. Many people have been able to return to their homes. The fire crews are working wonders, helped by diminishing winds and higher humidity. We are not out of it yet, but are moving in the right direction.

Sketching On The Subway - interesting article

There was an interesting article in Friday's (July 4) Los Angles Times. It is about people who commute into Manhattan on the subway, and who sketch their fellow commuters across the aisle. Wish I was a bettter sketcher (I would tend to take digital photos and paint from the images). Also I tend to be too impatient.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Few Days in Palm Springs

This time of year, Palm Springs, California, is very hot and usually dry. Each June my wife and I take a week off to dry out. Any one who has lived a few years in Santa Barbara soon knows that June is famous for its "June Gloom" - a time of daily cool overcast weather.

As I type the temperature is approaching 110 degrees (F) and surprisingly humid. The newspaper indicates that the Santa Barbara weather is in the high 60's, and overcast - the usual June Gloom.

Most of the time I spend the week catching up on my magazines, while my wife alternates between soaking in the pool, reading, and shopping in the few local shops still open this time of year.

One "must" visit for me is to the Palm Springs Art Museum, a couple of blocks from where we always stay. This year they have a great exhibit of sculptures by Henry Moore and similar works from the early 20th century. But the must see exhibit is "D. J. Hall: Thirty-Five Year Retrospective ."

I have to admit I was not familiar with this artist Debra Jane Hall (she always signs herself with her initials: D. J.) before visiting the exhibit. But one quick glance and I realised I was in love!

To quote from the curator, Katherine Hough "Her subjects are women of privilege - those with time to lounge by pools or lunch on patios. But the hyper-realism of the work gives it an edge, makes the viewer wonder what is amiss in paradise."

The exhibit features about 50 paintings, along with examples of photographs, drawings, studies and notes that Hall has used to prepare large paintings.

"One of things she captures," continues Hough, "she presents an illusion of reality. It's not really reality and she captures that magical moment when memory reminds us of happy time we had with friends in the sunshine. It's a memory or an illusion. It's happy and bright and cheerful but when you start really looking at the subjects, there are deeper meanings."

I love her work because it is almost photo realistic, but obviously composed - the players, all women, have these wide open toothy smiles and often big opaque sunglasses. The smiles and glasses keep the viewer from really observing what was going on. There is an appealing artificiality about the paintings that captured me as I examined each.

Also, there were examples of her notes and sketches used to compose particular paintings. Often they were detailed in the style of a story board - similar to planning out a movie. A really good draftsman/artist, her sketches are very detailed and accurate. The notes said that she hired models, who often became her friends, and often provided props from her own household. I noticed how the same models and props, such as pitchers, and other items, appear in several paintings.

Though working mostly in oil, also shown were smaller artworks in colored pencils, crayon, watercolor, gouache, and pastel. I learned a lot about how she planed her "shoots" and how she set up "stories" that play with the viewer's emotions and capture one's thoughts.

If you are in Palm Springs this summer, try to visit this inspiring exhibit. Then let me know what you think about the paintngs.
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Saturday, May 31, 2008

More on my earlier blog "An Alternative to Digitally Photographing Your Painting."

My recent blog "An Alternative to Digitally Photographing Your Painting" has been reproduced as an article in a recent "Empty Easel" blog (this blog is well worth following for any serious artist). In addition my blog has generated some comments with questions that may be of general interest.

Elandria of ELANDRIA Oil Paintings, and Heather Assaf, both asked similar questions:

"What scanner are you using?"

I have a Microtek ScanMaker i900. I purchased this scanner to scan 35 mm slides and 4x5 transparencies. It has the ability to scan at 4800 dpi.

For scanning my paintings only use 400 dpi, so a lower quality (and lower price scanner would be OK.

I use Vuscan software to control the actual scanning. There are plenty of other scanning software available, including software that came with the scanner.

I have used Vuscan for years and I find their latest version is very good and easy to use.

"Does this mean you put the painting on the glass-plate?


As a result I often get highlights that occasionally occur where the paint bumps touch the glass.

I usually clean up the resulting image (after the merge step) to get rid of the highlights, using Photoshop Elements. To do the cleanup I work at very high magnification – so that I almost see the individual pixels. For most of the cleanup I use the Photoshop Stamping tool. Very occasionally I have to use the blur tool as well.

"I understand that overlapping part and that you need more than 1 scan for bigger paintings.

Adobe suggests more than 25% overlap.

Hope that answers some of the outstanding issues, and that you all have great success.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

This is a great new painting.

New photographic prints have just been picked up after processing. Two friends, young Latino women, are anxious to see how they turned out. They sit on a low wall near a park and on the way home.

After quickly opening the envelope they scan each print and compare their feelings. Maybe they are photos of the new baby, or a boy friend, or last weekend's party. All are important memories to be shared and relived.

This painting was based upon photographs I took while painting near the central square of the colonial town of Patzcuaro, Mexico.

I think there is a lot of feeling in this painting "Sharing Memories." It is a situation that many of us have experianced, either as a participant, or by watching someone we know. I am very happy with how it turned out.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Alternative to Digitally Photographing Your Painting

As I have mentioned several times before, for years I have been photographing my paintings as they are completed. The goal is to have good documentation, particularly of sold paintings. Also, I need to have something to submit to shows, or maybe, reproduce as a print for sale.

At first I tried to photograph the paintings myself. Sometimes it went well. Other times the results were marginal. So soon I started to send them to a local photographer who specializes in photographing paintings.

Typically I asked him to produce half a dozen 35 mm slides from each painting. If I thought a specific painting was particularly good, in addition I would order a 3 x 5 inch transparency. The downside was a week or more delay in being able to show my newest paintings.

A few years ago, many shows began accepting digital images as well as slides. Even before then I needed digital images for submitting to online galleries, as well as for my own website.

At first, I started shooting the paintings myself with my digital camera, with the usual spotty results. But in most cases I was able to post process in my computer to improve the digital image. This was in addition to having the usual slides made.

Then my photographer began to offer shooting digital images with his 10 megapixel camera. My camera was only 5 megapixels. Plus I was still having my image quality troubles. Very soon I decided to give up having the 35 mm slides all together.

Over the years, I have accumulated a large library of 35 mm slides, and quite a few 3 x 5 transparancies. A year or so ago I invested in a quality scanner with high scan resolution to turn my slides and transparencies into great digital images. But scanning slides is a lot of work. So far I have scanned only a few slides of my older paintings.

With the recent rapid development and rea
dy availability of inexpensive high qality online print making services, such as, the need for me to have available very high resolution digital images of my paintings has increased. My photographer is able to scan my paintings with a very high resolution scanning camera, but only at a high price, as well as an extended waiting time while he doctors the scanning process and the finished image.

For paintings smaller than 8-1/2 x 14 inch I can scan them directly on my own scanner. I have done this successfully for several 8 x 10 portraits.

But there is a simple way to do the same thing for larger paintings.

For several years I have been using Adobe's Photoshop Elements computer program to adjust my digital images. This software has a Panorama feature which allows several digital images to be stitched together to creat a larger image. I have used this several times to join photographs taken with my digital camera. But until recently, the process was a little clumsy and the results were often not perfect.

The larger, much more expensive Adobe Photoshop program has the same feature, works in a different way, and produces much better results. Fortunately, recently Adobe upgraded Photoshop Elements to version 6 and includes what appears to be the same software for the Panorama process as in their more expensive Photoshop.

Having recently upgraded my Photoshop Elements, I have used this improved software to process on several of my larger paintings with great success. Here are two examples:

The first painting "Sharing Memories" 20 x 16 inches, required six scans. The second painting "Mariachi" 12 x 24 inches, required four scans. It is necessary to overlap each scan by at least 30 percent to get a good knit.

I set the scans at 400 dpi – quite enough for good print reproduction at more than full size. The resulting files are large 400 Kb. or larger. But on my 1.6 Ghz iMac with 2 Gbt of RAM the knitting together step only takes about five minuets. After the Panorama process has knitted the individual scan files into a composite image, it has to be cropped to get rid of the edges. This slightly reduces the archive file.

The resulting file forms the starting point for a "Collection" folder for each painting. As I generate smaller specialized files (for website images, or publicity purposes, etc.) they end up in this folder. The folder of all my collections (about 350 folders, each for an individual painting) is backed up automatically each night.

If you want to try it yourself and do not have the newest Photoshop Elements, you may download for 30 days free
the full Photoshop CS3, and tryout the same Panorama feature. I did this myself before buying the latest Photoshop Elements upgrade. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another Musician Painting

We were painting in an area near an old church, when suddenly a funeral procession came by. I was attending a painting workshop near the mountain colonial town of Patzcuaro in western Mexico.

The coffin, born by six burly men, apparently contained someone of some local stature. For the procession was large and accompanied by a band of some fourteen Mariachi musicians.

As the crowd started into the church, the musicians arranged themselves along the path beside the entrance, and played to the gathering morners.

Each player was probably a local shopkeeper or worker in the small town. Each had probably taken time off to honor the dead person.

I have always enjoyed developing paintings with a musical theme. This painting, named Mariachi, is loosely based upon several photographs I took years ago while at that workshop.

Another Portrait Finished

We were eating at the café at the Getty Villa Museum, Malibu California. There was a noisy crowd at a table across the patio.

I took a series of photographs of the group, because they were interesting and animated. Upon examining the images later, I liked particularly this woman's face.

The painting I developed is quite a bit different. Her coloring and clothing has been changed.

I named her Jan. But once again, I never knew her real name.

As you may see, I made a layout change here from my usual portraits. I placed the face to the right of the canvas, instead of in the center. She gives me a soft feeling with her glance, and I felt the space in this layout conveys that softness to the viewer.

She has this "tooth" smile. In real life the teeth were not quite aligned at the bottom. When submitting the nearly finished painting to my critique group, they felt the irregularity attracted too much attention. So I "filed" down her teeth and painted them neatly in a row.

Painting teeth are difficult. Getting just the right color is hard. Again, too white brings the viewer's eye to them too quickly. Too much of any other color may make the face dour.

One of my critique group is a retired dentist. His feedback has taught me a lot.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Visit to France March 2008

I have not been Blogging for a while, because we took a vacation trip to France. Our first leg was to fly to Paris for three nights.

While in Paris we were able to visit the Louvre, d'Orsay, and the Rodin Museums. Our visit to the Louvre was assisted by a lovely young personal guide, made available to just us through the generosity of our daughter and son-in law.

We spent over 4-1/2 hours in the Louvre with her exploring the Flemish and French painting collections. We were particularly lucky that she has specialized in this area of art history. She told us she was training
at the Louvre's own school to become a curator.

It was wonderful to see so many famous paintings "in-the-flesh" as it were. I was astonished by the Louvre's size. Also, of the great condition of the paintings and the care in their presentation. The galleries (which seem to go on for ever) are so bright and airy. It was a memorable visit.

Both the d'Orsay and the Rodin museums were very enjoyable. The d'Orsay is within a renovated railway terminal. But here I was surprised by the poor condition of so many of the well known impressionist paintings. Many I had seen as slides where apparently the colors had been enhanced. In the original the colors of the paintings were often dull.

The Rodin is an old house set in a sizable garden. Sculptures are scattered though the building and garden. It gives one a feeling of the productivity his workshop and school. My wife (who sculpts herself) was particularly enthralled. Unfortunately the garden was closed due to the bad weather.

The second part of our trip began by being bussed to Chalon-sur-Saone in central France (with a few hours stop and tour at Dijon) to meet a river boat – our home for the next week.

The plan was to cruise
down the Saone to join the Rhone river at Lyon and then on to Provence. On the way we would pass through the Burgundy and Beaujolais regions, finally stopping at Arles and then back-trackeing to Avignon.

Once on board the boat, we were given many side trips to places of interest along the way. One trouble that we soon uncovered was that the various local guides tended to offer a lot of discussion about the various Roman ruins and other "old" structures.

With both my wife and I growing up in Great Britain, ancient ruins are very common.
All around where we lived there were many examples of such remains, often a lot older than the Roman period. But of course, the many other American tourists travelling with us found them all of great interest. We solved the problem by wandering off from the crowd, and looking at what we found interesting - often the local scene and particularly the people.

But on these trips we saw several great museums. At Beaune we visited Hotel Dieu, a former hospice dating from the 15th. century. Apart from the building itself which is beautiful and well preserved, it contains some very nice paintings. The facility was set up centuries ago with vineyards, salt mines, and productive land that still today provides a considerable private endowment.

Lyon there were some interesting buildings with trompe l'oeil mural paintings of balconies, shop fronts, and people, both famous and unknown. Here, as in many towns across France, were numerous public art sculptures.

Arles is famous for the time spent there by painter Vincent Van Gogh. Apart from walking past (and photographing) some of the landmarks memorialized in his paintings, there is a small museum of the Vincent Van Gogh D'Arles Foundation. Here many contemporary artists such as: Arman, Bacon, Rotero, César, Combas, Debré, Fromaner, Rauschenberg, Lichstein, Saura, and many more, have provided paintings, sculpture, music, photography, and writings to express how Van Gogh has influenced their personal development as an artist. It is small, but very interesting.

Avignon there is the magnificent Papal Palace. This enormous building with its many rooms, is adorned with frescos, murals, sculptures, tapestries, and paintings, developed and collected over many years. The artwork is astounding and from many periods.

We left our boat at Avignon, and were bussed to Marseille airport, to catch a series of planes back to Los Angeles, and on to home. The westward journey was long – over 30 hours. It took us over a week to recover from the jet lag and to resume normal life.

The weather, starting in Paris, was terrible with rain, sleet, snow, and driving wind. Living for so long in Southern California, I and forgotten how cold it can get. But we had anticipated the bad weather and had all the right clothes. Inside the Museums we were well protected. By the time we reach the south of France, the weather improved with occasional periods of sunshine, and even warmth.

I took over 1,500 digital photographs, mostly of people, store fronts, window shutters, and narrow passage ways. People walking, sitting, battling the rain, and occasionally sitting outside cafes enjoying a glass of wine or a beer during a break in the weather. I have enough source material to last me over several years.

A wonderful productive trip.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On Painting with Gouache

As I may have mentioned in an earlier Blog, the most popular page of my website is a discussion of how I paint with Gouache.

Starting in the middle of the nineteenth century and continuing through the middle of the twentieth century, most European & American artists painted in Gouache at one time or another in their careers.

Throughout the twentieth century commercial artists used Gouache widely. This association with commerce caused many contemporary artists of that period to avoid its use. And, until recently, few fine artists used Gouache.

Much of my early work was in watercolor. To increase the boldness of the colors I started intermix Gouache with my transparent watercolors.

This technique, with its resulting strong colors and sharp contrast, appealed greatly to me. Also, at about the same time, I started using a varnish finish and doing away with protective glass and its reflections – a big plus.

Maybe the general interest today in Gouache painting is due to it still being some what unusual. Now, I mostly paint in oil. But for some years I painted in Gouache, and produced many fine paintings.

I have been gradually enriching that web page on Gouache techniques with additional material and illustrations. Also, I have been adding to my website examples of my Gouache period paintings, with links from the popular web page to my web galleries of the Gouache paintings.

As I refine my web page, perhaps some visitors will look beyond that and see some of my more recent work.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

New Thoughts – New Words

I was posting my latest painting to the Imagekind and BoundlessGallery online galleries. I use Imagekind to offer prints of my paintings, and Boundless to showcase my art for sale.

Both require that I provide a description and tags to enable searching to aid visitors.

When working on the tagging, I noticed that I had used the word "fascinating" to describe my people, instead of "interesting," which I have used for a long time.

The word "fascinating" is a much more powerful word than "interesting." Suddenly it dawned on me that this is the word that I must use from here on.

I paint Fascinating People!!!

So I have spent the rest of the afternoon changing "interesting" into "fascinating" all over my website, and in the headings for this blog.

Actually, it was not very difficult. I use a template for all the pages of my website. Changing it automatically changed all 88 webpages. Then I had to edit about a dozen pages (mostly the Gallery pages) to alter words in the headings.

I like the result. I hope you do too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Painting Completed.

Just finished this new painting "Friends." As usual these days, this 16 x 20 inch painting is an oil on canvas, unframed, and with painted edges.

Two women, one well dressed, the other – perhaps best described as a bit of a slob – are sitting on a street bench.
Both have a paper cup of some drink in their hands – probably picked up at a nearby stall.

They are
in a deep discussion of some problem. The woman in yellow looks worried. The other is offering helpful ideas and encouragement. After all, that is what friends are for.

Quite possibly it is about a man, or a relative, or maybe about a health issue. All the usual possibilities. It is left to the viewer to decide.

I wanted to push the images a little, to make them more dramatic. The story is the key element.
The result is a rather more styled painting than my more recent work.

Last summer I took some photographs at the Thursday evening Street Fair and Farmer's Market, while visiting Palm Springs, California. In the background of one photograph, very small, I saw these two women sitting on a bench and talking. From that fragment I developed this painting.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why I Paint.

Maybe some people will say I am a fool, or even non-professional.

Many artists I know get into a groove painting images that they have found sell well. They get continual feedback from their successful sales. The work they are producing is liked by others. Their customers keep coming back for more.

This flow of positive feedback means that they keep turning out images that (hopefully) will be loved by their audience and bring them a steady income. This motivation is reinforced by their spouse and family, who like the security.

Perhaps because I have never found this cocoon of comfort. Perhaps because I have turned away buyer feedback because it did not jibe with my own feelings as to what was good work. Upon completing an artwork, I always look for a new challenge – a new approach to convey my message.

For years I have always been looking for the next mountain to climb. I am never satisfied with what I am producing. Maybe I have missed opportunities. Maybe I confuse my customers. I probably discourage agents and galleries.

But I am lucky in that I do not have to depend upon my sales to pay for the bread on my table. And, I have reached an age when I am not out to impress anyone. I paint what I enjoy painting. I am always trying to do better.

Of course, I have the problem of storing a lot of unsold painting. But I have partly solved that by giving them away – either to friends and family, or donating them to local charity fundraisers.

So watch this space. The future should be interesting – at least to me!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Another Painting Is Finished!

"Evening Serenade" is oil on canvas, 12 x 24 inches. It is loosely based upon several photographs I took several years ago in Puerto Vallarta, a beach resort on the west coast of Mexico.

I have always enjoyed developing paintings with a musical theme. In this image a group of ten people (probably tourists) are sitting at a beach side cantina.

As the
sun slowly sinks into the ocean, they are listening to four guitar playing musicians serenading them with sweet nothings.

With this painting, the first with a music theme I have painted in oil, I will introduce a new section to my website to exhibit some of my earlier goauche paintings with a similar theme.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008 - getting back in the swing of things.

At last I am back at painting everyday. And now to get my blogging up to a schedule.

I am about 3/4 finished on a new painting with fourteen figures - do I call it a group or a crowd? It is based upon some images I captured in Mexico a couple of years or more ago. I always liked the photos and now have got around to painting them. The painting consists of a group of musicians entertaining some people at a beach side bar.

It has a sunset sky (I seem to be hung up on these skies), the ocean, and the sandy beach with lots of shadows. There a lot of tiny details which I enjoy painting with my smallest brushes (000), but it is slow work. Still have not got a name for the painting. Will have to work on that one.

Otherwise, I am putting a lot of time into helping my non-profit Santa Barbara Visual Arts. It is membership renewal time and I have been arranging for the solicitations and answering the many questions that arise. Plus, I have to build the emailing lists for 2008 as people pay.

To make things easier, last year we tried using the PayPal method of allowing people the option of paying online with a credit card. It gets the money in faster, and requires less handling and bookwork. This year we expanded the approach by adding several different fee rates and using the online payment method for each.

On the whole things have gone very well. Of course, some of the larger organizations still require invoices, but I have been submitting them by email, which seems to be accepted and makes thing easier (and cheaper for us).