Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I am no stranger to revisiting a scene that I find appealing.

I have often painted the same scene at different times of the day or different times of the year, however it is very rare that I ever just copy a scene to duplicate it, even if it is a well received image.

Recently I did this first painting a 16" x 20" from a scene in my head with the aid of a photograph in my studio. I did a pencil sketch as I always do prior to starting a painting no matter what size the painting is.
The sketch is posted below as well.

At the close of the original painting I decided to start a new version, same size, same design but keeping within the perimeters of my pencil sketch not using the photo at all. Surprisingly since the scene was still fresh in my mind I really didn't need it. What I did turn to was my sketch which was the driving force in my mind.

I was interested in interpreting more and not being too literal, simplifying, and stylizing my shapes.
Looking to exploring the pencil sketch and movement of the design with less detail, versus the scene as it was, leaning on what I experienced while painting with Tu Zhiwei in China last fall, who still resides in the deep recesses of my mind - thankfully. So even though they are the same scene there is a noticeable difference.

I feel as if I was able to do what I set out to do with this second version.
Always learning, digging deeper, and trying to understand what it is I am attempting to do. I assume it is never ending, but always welcoming any evolving that comes my way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On Line Critiquing

A few years back one of my students from out of state asked me if I would be willing to critique their work, either with images sent via e mail, skype,  or by phone. I was curious about doing it especially seeing that I do really enjoy teaching and have been doing it since 1999.
Due to my hectic schedule, and my age (not sure online critiquing was really do-able, (I was a little slow to adapt to the computer years back), we did  not follow through with it.

Recently I had another fellow painter and collector ask me the same question. Seeing that it is my slow time of the year, no plein air events taking me all over the country, and I do think highly of this person and their abilities,  I accepted.

I have spent a couple of hours at the close of each evening prior to calling it a day and must say I have thoroughly enjoyed it. As artist's much of our time is spent in isolation, and anytime you are given the opportunity to chat about art, of course we jump at the chance, even if it is online.  It is always challenging to do a thorough critique and give a good honest break down of what one thinks would be of benefit to help that piece as well as learn for future pieces, especially without evoking any hurt feelings. Verbalizing has never been my strong point unlike my dear friend Craig Bleitz, that man can talk circles around just about anybody I know and intelligent circles at that, no BS, however when it comes to expressing my ideas about what makes fine art it is easy to get rather passionate and fired up.

I'll even go so far as to drop the original image into Photoshop and rebuild, correct, alter, and enhance things on a separate layer. In the end we can compare the original right along side to the newly revised piece and make some good statements about what may help or hurt the overall painting. Gotta love Photoshop, just another great tool we have at our disposal.

I am gratefully to have this opportunity knowing full and well that teaching in any form always makes us think in more depth, always testing ourselves and digging deeper for better insight and understanding. Irving Shapiro told me many years ago that he always took as much from each of his  students as he gave to them.
As you teach others, you learn as well, what a great thing!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Lust for Life, Vincent Van Gogh

The other night my boys and I watched the film a "Lust for Life", Irving Stone, Kirk Douglas / Anthony Quinn flick from the late 50's I believe. I have a copy on video and every now and again have the desire to watch it.
I was really surprised on the impact it had on my 2 youngest boys, both of whom are very much into the arts.
If you haven't seen it, it is worth a rental. It is all about the trials and life of Vincent Van Gogh.
I have a few art books on Van Gogh as well a book or two on the letters he wrote to his brother Theo. Really quite a deep guy and somewhat twisted, but very passionate to say the least.
After watching the movie both of my boys began taping 4 separate sheets together to make a larger piece of paper to work on, noticing how large many of Van Gogh's paintings were. More than that they both tried to emulate his way of seeing the world, swirling strokes, strong bold color, and stylized interpretations. Very interesting and I very much enjoyed their response to the movie and Van Gogh.
I always find myself very moved by my piers, be it Ray Roberts and his wife Peggy Kroll at Laguna, or the stylized feel of an Eric Bowman painting in Easton, or of course you must throw in the dead guys like Edgar Payne. Bryan Mark Taylor and I were able to check out a show of his work in Pasadena on the way down to Laguna Beach recently.
I felt very much like my boys - the desire to go big, broad bold strokes, wonderful color harmonies, bare canvas showing through everywhere, impeccable designs, absolutely wonderful and very inspirational to say the least. Even ran into Jeremy Lipking and Glenn Dean there as well as a few others taking in the show.
I often wonder what effect if any I will have on my boys when I ramble on incessantly about this painter or that one, showing them book after book, painting after painting, always encouraging them to stop and look and take it all in one day at a time.
I guess time will tell.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Alterations for the sake of design.

As I get back into the routine of blogging again, I may be a bit scattered with my thoughts but this did present itself today so may as well jump in.

                                          "Sheds and Shacks" 18" x 24 Oil on Linen Panel

I did this painting earlier this summer at Plein Air  Easton. Even though the scene I was working from did not have a window in the pink building as it does in my painting, top image, I felt it was necessary to include one.
The openness of the shape did not seem to help the overall composition so I decided to add a window which tends to tie the shapes together a bit and add to the overall flow of the piece.
As much as I tend to document what is in front of me, I will make these small but important alterations when I feel the design would be better served.
Building from what is there but not being a slave to it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


                                      "Southern Charm, Miss Myrtles" 18 x 24
                                                       Artist Choice Award
                                              Florida's Forgotten Coast 2012

Glancing back at the events of this year I was very fortunate and grateful to have won a few awards. I am not one to toot my own horn but always happy to be recognized, always knowing that winning any awards does not mean you are the best artist in the room, it only means you have won the favor of the judge for that given day. Even with Artist Choice Awards, it seems that rarely is it ever won by a landslide, usually all is takes is  3 or 4 artists to agree upon a given painting, which in itself is a difficult task. :  )
For example as much as I enjoyed receiving the Artist Choice Award in Florida this year I did not feel as if I was the best choice, there really were some amazing pieces there, again not complaining but as usual just second guessing.
I am often amazed at how I feel while participating in an event all week and being okay about what I produced and then going to the opening and finding myself very humbled, never fails no matter what I do or have accomplished. I have heard that this it is part of the growing process and that it never really changes, always striving to reach the next unattainable level.
It can kind of drive one a little crazy at times, as much as I am always competing with other artists at these events, I tend to be truly competing more with myself than anyone else. However after all the years of playing B-Ball through High School and College, I do love a good trash talkin' ! :  )

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7, 2012 - More than a year later!

The last time I posted was during my return trip back to the US from Hong Kong last November 2011.
Not sure where the time has gone and was actually surprised at myself that I did not post anything after that absolutely amazing trip to China with Tu Zhiwei. Thanks again Tu!
I came back to the States so inspired and even somewhat overwhelmed but excited none the less. I had so much to share and yet found myself spending a lot of time going through the more than 40 gigs of photos I shot while being in China. That did indeed take some time, but not a full year! So no excuses. But as of lately I have felt the need to once again start jotting down some of my thoughts and experiences.
Not even sure where to start without literally back tracking all the way back to the beginning of the year. However not sure I even want to go there.
Here are a few images from China.

Tu and Eddie

Tu and Jeng Hu, great painters!

          While I am at it I may as well post a few images from the various events from earlier this year.

                                                   Awarded Purchase Prize - Top Honors
                                                              Callaway Gardens GA

                                               Awarded First Place - Quick Draw - Florida

                                                   Awarded Artist Choice - Top Honors
                                                            Florida's Forgotten Coast

  Easton MD 

    Awarded Honorable Mention
Sonoma CA  

                                                                 Laguna Beach CA

I do have some things I would like to make mention of as the days pass and those thoughts come back to me, until then, thanks Stew!