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Friday, December 14, 2012

Mugshot 75, Scott with Clown nose

This one was fun to do, the straight gaze.   I photographed the live Scott in my studio with lights so I could control the amount of shadow on his face. Control is good, I want more of it. Still, I spent a long time messing with the drawing, the part of it that I always think I will speed through and then get to the painting part, the fun part.  Also regarding background, I  started with a viridian/winsor red base from which I mixed all the skin tones, then used a grey with predominantly viridian in it - trying for some overall color integrity.  I mean, I don't know how you get there....I'm just taking a whack at different ways to do it.

I uncrossed his left eye and re-shot this so am re-posting.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Paco and Cookbooks

This is the resident (very vocal)  cat at the home I visited over Thanksgiving.  Many surfaces to address, glassiness, hard planes, soft fur, etc.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Greyhound and Squirrel

Since I have always had small jittery terrier type dogs, greyhounds seem like ghost dogs, or maybe (not to imply death) angel dogs.  Vogue dogs, maybe. They look elegant and tranquil, although this dog had a lot of puppy still in him and wanted everything on the dinner table. Such sweetness in their faces. They don't look like they could cuddle up with you on a bad day, though. How would you fold up all those legs?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Belle and Student Work: Cherry Pie

Upper painting - Belle, an English bulldog I think. I tried this painting twice, the first time mostly grays and yellows and it didn't feel right, it wasn't light hearted enough. This was not because of color, who knows why, I'm sure Wayne Thiebaud could do it.  Also I have been looking at other peoples' backgrounds.... as usual, it is another world all to itself. I lifted a lot of paintings out of Catherine Kehoe's Powers of Observation site and made them as large as possible on the screen of my Mac, so every time I sit down at the computer, there are ten of them to look at with various background treatments.  Bielen's backgrounds are the most stunning -- both there and not there. How to make the background the perfect surround for the image, integral to the  painting of the dog/baby/sugar bowl? How not to see the back ground as separate -- In this case, there was so much baby pink in the dog's muzzle, I had to go for the quinacridone rose, and then the cadmium red light was not far behind.

Lower painting - a student's work. I think it's so nice, good color and positively iconographic.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


So, it's Christmas already.  Dog commissions due.  I read an interesting quote this week:
"Do not hurry. Do not rest."  Goethe

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pastry: Donut on Striped Napkin

Just a little break from those tough babies...maybe good to do one painting that is a stretch and one that is simply fun.  This donut is pretty old and starting to collapse in on itself.  However, I love all donuts and anything else that is full of sugar.  Love that sugar.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mugshot 73: Baby 3

On the last two babies I used a winsor red/viridian combination for the basic dark out of which I worked all the other flesh tones. In this one I used a purple/yellow combination just to see what it would look like. Pretty much the same overall, but I kept all the colors in the purple/yellow range for continuity. Also used a paler background this time to see if the color in the face is stronger (not so much) and to see what the softer color overall looks like.  I think still the color could be stronger in the skin, more pigment.  There is SO MUCH gray, a million pearly grays.  I think more experimenting...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mugshot 72: Baby 3

Same deal with this one, fast and as direct as I could make it.  I was more aware in this one of the vast and subtle range of half tones -- that if I could identify the tone that ties the dark and light together and then get that patch of paint in the right place, the form will bend. Just that there are so many half tones. And half/half tones. These last two babies were less than 10 minutes old.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mugshot 71: ( Baby 2)

This was quicker and more fun and resulted in more muscular painting.  It takes the pwessure off if I think I am going to do it fast and have fun with it, even if it's no fun and I get stuck.  Also, I was looking for a way to reduce the sweetness - I mean not to have it be sentimental.  Thus, the black.  But it is what it is, a sweet newborn.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mugshot 70 : Baby 1

I have recently acquired new progeny.
It's fun to paint these mashed heads. I was allowed to be in the delivery room so I could get shots immediately at birth.  It was so exciting though, that I was just wildly shooting everything hoping I got something good. This is my first go at it and it's largish, 10x16 inches. For the next one I'm scaling down because I want to work toward getting it down really fast, by which I mean getting the planes of the head and large masses established with a big brush before I get any detail in there.  Maybe I can get everything with the big brush and won't have to stoop to the little one at all.  Also, I want to get strong values stated immediately, so if I do smaller size and greater number I might practice my way into doing it habitually. Hoping for this.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mugshot 69, Possible Family Member

He looks so mournful because he has - as everyone eventually develops in Texas - allergies.
This makes for lots of pink and red around the eyes, fun to paint. I made a good effort to get the skin color full of lots of pigment, and it was easy because I could see it. I photographed him backlit and in  shadow, so everything was pretty dark and close valued.  Also, still big bristle brushes for the most part.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mugshot 68: Double Portrait, Queen Marianna and Jean

I went to the Meadows Museum in Dallas to see the Velazquez show. There were only a few paintings,  I think the show specified they were early court paintings.  The jewel of the show was the Phillip IV, I'm not certain of his number, and he was painted when Velazquez was 24 years old.  When I compared those early paintings with what I know of V.'s later ones, I could see and understand the difference.  The early paintings, although beautiful and ambitious, were without the poetry and breath of the later ones. I did turn a corner though and stumble on my friend, Queen Marianna, and so I got a little shot of the two of us.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mug Shots 66 and 67 RT

These two  were done about a week apart, the top one done today.  I think his face is really as long as it is in the lower one, but I couldn't make my brain do it on a shorter panel.  I did use much much more pigment in the top one though -- I think it doesn't show so much in these photographs. I made lots of batches of paint with the palette knife,  so first I studied the photo carefully to see what areas could be generalized for color and then made it.  I think this keeps the paint cleaner and more pure.  Also, my brush work was better in the top one, I'm getting better at making the shape of the color fit the plane of the face.  Top one is better I think.

Mugshot 65, Self Portrait in Dewrag

I am holding the camera out in front of myself, thinking and figuring in my head what the light will do, etc.  Not being cynical.  I used big and little bristle brushes, none of my flats or brights which give me more control, so everything is rougher.  Which maybe I like.  But maybe not. Also working to get more pigment into the skin, not necessarily more colorful, although this shot had some amazing pale lavender lights around the eyes.  I just want to get the skin darker and it seems that the longer I work the paint, meaning more than one or two brush strokes, the lighter and more amalgamated the whole thing becomes, which I do NOT like.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mugshot 64, Monkey

I have been working and reworking the same painting for the last three days and just cannot get it, so I have wiped it one last time and put it away for awhile. A girl just needs to have some fun.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mugshot 63, Cigar

Again, the big brush for as much as I could do.  Also, I tried to get as much pigment into the skin as possible. I notice that when I am doing a timed painting with my painting group (bad light, glare, etc.) I can't see very well, and since the timer is going I just have to make approximate decisions and get on with it. The skin always looks better than when I am working on my own, and from photographs.  WEll, now that I write that, it could be one of the differences between having the live model and having an already interpreted image in a photo.  Whatever.  I think the time pressure forces an economical reduction of detail.  I wonder if you can learn to do that.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Black Chihuahua

This is one of the rescue dogs belonging to my student, who is painting her animals.  This photo was in the studio and I couldn't resist.  Those ears. That anxiety.  Ai yi yi.

I made myself paint it primarily with the 1 inch bristle brush, trying to build on what I have been learning about getting the form down faster.  The paint behaves differently with the bristle --- the oily quality is more apparent and edges merge more easily.  Also, it was fun to paint a dog that wasn't a commission -- bwa ha ha --- no one to please.  This went down pretty much in one shot.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mugshot 62, T.P.

In this painting I used the big bristle brush for the first 3/4 of it.  It won't let me get specific and forces me to address the masses, which is not my inclination.  I remember once looking at a painting of Freud's and there was this febrile pink line under the eyeball, which was the top plane of the lower eyelid. It was so beautiful, so unexpected and true.  Instantly brought me to my knees - how to paint that, how to get it down.   I'm in love with those details of the face, the portrait, and I always want to get right to those parts of the painting.  However, now I know this must not be done until the end, so the big brush is a help.  Just in the last few months I have been able to  use an array of brushes depending on what was being painted, saving the brush with 3 hairs in it for the pink lid, should I have one.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Farm Girl Jam Label, Blackberry, and Portrait of Gir

Top painting is the last of the Farm Girl Jam Labels, Blackberry Jam.
Below is the amazing painting of a current student.  This noble Chihuahua is named Gir.
As in GRRRRR. So fine!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jam Jar Label, Pomegranate

Pomegranate Jam Jar Label.  Do know know why the printer has redirected this copy and centered everything, Hal has obviously taken over.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jam Jar Label Apricot

Multiple tries on these. I find them tough to paint.  First they are velvety, so they present no highlight, which helps more than I realized to bring the lighted area forward and convey roundness. Next, they are luminous, which means you've got to understand the mixing of yellows very well so that the clear yellows sing out against the muddier yellows and all this happens in the right passages. And last, they are sort of unassuming with their soft folded flesh. Like babies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mugshot 61: President Obama

This is a painting I did to enter a show in Charlotte, N. C. that will be up during the  Democratic Convention. I think it is to be held in a very large space like a warehouse.  The title of the show is, All Things Obama.  I am so sorry I won't be able to see it, can you even imagine the wild variety? It should be hilarious fun.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Farm Girl Jam Label Olallieberries

Farm Girl Jam:  Olallieberries!  I'm not certain how this differs in taste from the boysenberry and the blackberry as I didn't get a jar of this one in my care package from the Farm Girl.  They are longer and more narrow though. I hope I get a jar of this to try.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jam Jar Label, Strawberries

Oy vey, it photographed a bit dark.  This is for Farmgirl or Farm Girl, I will have to check.  I think this product is coming out in the gourmet food market in October.  Thanks everyone for your kind comments.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jam Jar Label/ Fig Jam

This is the label for fig jam.  The brand is Farmgirl, coming soon out of California.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jam Jar Label: Cranberry Jalapeño

This painting is for a jam jar label.  There are I think 8 jams, each one better than the next, as I was sent a box of them to try.  This is Cranberry Jalapeño and I was forced to eat the first half of the jar with a spoon. The rest I used with some cream on a grilled pork loin.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mug shot 57, Blue Parrot Waiter

This is one of those no neck guys, and he was actually quite trim.
Last night in my painting group one of the really good painters let me sit behind her and watch while she worked, providing I did not speak.  I learned a lot about moving the paint around.  She used big bristle brushes for large areas of skin, I don't know what that seemed so revolutionary to me, but has been difficult for me to do. Seeing her do it helped. Also, once she put the paint down, she sort of moved it around over areas (in the beginning stages) and in her  finished painting there was the look of wet fluid paint which is what you need for skin, and maybe everything - because oh the beauty of the paint itself alone! Aside from all the other  thousand skills you need for painting, I guess paint handling is right up at the top.  Another issue I had with this, is that the photograph did not have many areas of strong darks, because the light was coming from the front toward his face and it was pretty evenly lit.  That studio lighting with a strong spotlight coming from one direction makes things much easier.  Anyway, I sort of got him.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Wall Sconce

This was painted from a photo I took from an iPhone, I think the first picture I ever took from one. I was sitting on the bed in a hotel room and the wall sconce was just behind me.
That camera is a wonder, I was stunned, as can be seen.  This is what I learned from this painting: paint the entire eye socket flat in the darkest body tone and lay the shapes of the lids, iris, whites,etc. into the dark shadow paint.  Because I had to contend with those damn glasses, and because the glasses come last, by the time I got to painting them I could see I had misplaced one or the other eye slightly and so I had to wipe and repaint.  I painted lots of eyes...and the best ones were laid in over the dark tone.  The ones I painted piece by piece were not as integrated into the paint.  I have known this about painting over the dark for the eye socket, but I was not completely sold on it.  Now I'm a believer and will never never backslide.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nose Kiss

Happy belated birthday to Jill W. with love.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Um...been a while since I posted, but I have been painting and reading and organizing my wits.  Nothing much seemed post-able, so I stepped out from under that pressure for a bit and just kept plodding along.  This is a commission for the family in Dallas who rescues sick dogs and gives them the Mayo Clinic level of care.  They then live in a dog paradise of fun, food, clothes, jewels and  extravagant  canine experiences.  I think the pack is now up to about 8.  In spite of their advantages, none of the dogs is spoiled.  Elizabeth Quintero, I salute you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Peach Study #8, Free Peaches on Green Paper

These are not glam super market peaches, but free peaches from a neighbor's tree. Problems are the same though, and they are, as my friend and painter Lorraine Shirkus says:  the values are difficult to see because the dark coloring of the peaches can occur in the light and the light coloring in the shadow side.  You have to hold that in your head and also keep the understanding of where the light is hitting and then I think, not care and see how it ends up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cherries in a Gold Box

Peach interregnum.  These cherries are in an origami box made from gold cardboard.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Peach Studies 6 & 7, White and Black

I guess ----- the top one is under exposed, because the peaches are really on a white cloth, and yet, against the second one, on black, they don't seem so far apart. That bright spotlight does burn out the color though (on the black) where the light most directly strikes the surface.  Today on my early morning bike ride I came across a table in a drive way with plastic bags full of tiny peaches -- with leaves! - and a sign that said, Free.  So now I have plenty, with stems AND leaves. So exciting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I am trying to find  a new way, a different way to put the paint down.  I don't know what way this is, I just need a form I am familiar with that doesn't present any new learning curve, if only that could be true, so that I can practice with the paint itself.  Almost to the end of these  peaches though, their little leaves are wet and soggy from refrigerator condensation and the peaches themselves are spongey.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Peach Study 3, On Red

I set this up on purpose with everything darkish and hot, just to explore.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Study2 of Peaches on a Wrinkled Napkin

I swear the  darks on these peaches are so deep a red/brown that they are almost black.
And here is a link to a story about Robert Rauschenberg and his famous erased De Kooning drawing: click here.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Peach Study 1

I have a slew of these peach studies coming.  They are not very thrilling, just some of the requisite slogging necessary for progress. To compensate I will offer this interesting anecdote: Renoir once had a side job painting religious scenes on Venetian blinds for Christian missionaries to use in the tropics in their conversion of natives.  That is a pretty good story (true), I may have made a mistake and started at the top.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mugshot 60

This is the head of one of my favorite models, a boxer. She is overwhelmingly majestic.  I did this in a class with Jennifer Balkan, another timed painting, and I had a couple of bad starts so had to wipe and then very little time left to get it down, hence the thin paint. I wonder if there is a moral to this story.  Occasionally a very restricted situation forces me to use some hidden resource.  Certainly I am in a panic state when that happens and I won't be choosing to be there if I can help it.  If only I could get there without suffering for it. I'm against suffering.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


This is a little worried Chihuahua sitting on a wildly patterned couch. And -- he is sort of smiling.
Impossible to resist painting it, I practically tore the photo out of a student's hand.  She did a very nice painting herself of  another shot of Gomez, which I will post when I get her permission.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

This is a real mugshot from a Florida jail.  I thought this boy was so beautiful. I have painted him before, but still....I always think, now I might know a little more and be able to paint him better.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mugshot 57: The Lessards

OOOOH, I have been computerless for some time, odd how everything becomes so quiet when your computer isn't working, like the world has stopped and I guess, really that world HAS stopped.  All systems go for now though, I'm ecstatic!  This is a painting done from an old black and white photo, and I think it dates from the 20's, I forget exactly.  The groom looks like a biker to me, a Jimmy Dean, and I happen to know the bride possessed a bit of wickedness herself. All those value exercises paid off here. I just treated that suit like it was a jar of jam, laying in the darks and lights, squinting and shifting my eyes around, and voila -- clothing!