Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to "Build a Painting" (A work in Progress)

People ask "how do you do that"? Today, I decided to share a bit about how I construct a painting.

I've been working on prepared panel recently in lieu of linen. Neither one is better than the other, but I can achieve certain optical effects on panel more easily than on linen - most especially the illusion of transparent layers of light, which is important for me in my landscape work.

I began this by laying in a very, very light pencil drawing. Almost no detail, I concentrate on the composition, perspective, as well as the size and placement of all the major value planes. Value planes? Yes, that's how I begin, I don't even really think about "a cloud goes here, a tree goes there" I'm really considering how the values (light and dark) and their shapes are going to play against each other and I'm always asking "is this too big or small next to the other value plane".

I usually also tone my canvas, for landscape I do a wash of Transparent Red Iron Oxide and then let it dry before I begin. But I was eager to begin this painting, and went straight into the white surface. I began with the sky and how the light was flowing from the mid region of the right side of the panel. The entire plane of the sky (not including the clouds) was laid in, blended (oh there was a lot of blending with this sky!) and then the clouds were laid in. Afterwards I worked on the tree line and began the grassy field. As you can see, everything at this point is "uber-soft" and very very hazy, and that's just how I want it for right now. It's impossible to make a hard edge soft when you go back into a dry painting, but quite easy to make a soft line hard.

Anyway, that's how it all begins, more to come . . .

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Gift of Gratitude

Ok, Ok, I knew I said in my last post that I'd put up the image of a new small still life! As hard as I try posting on the blog, sometimes it eludes my best intentions. The primary reason this happens is not because I'm lazy, but yes, I've been busy - which is a good thing! LOL! Painting, teaching, hanging shows, meeting with potential collectors, serving on the Board of Directors at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, life is full - and it's great. I am still amazed each day how well things have gone for me, especially during the past year.

So, all this leads me to my Gift of Gratitude.

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to walk into my studio every day and explore on canvas what I experience in nature, and then, share it with others. Eschewing the normal "Existential Artists' Angst" I'm in search of the powerful beauty, joy and promise that nature provides.

In teaching, I'm very lucky to have some incredible students who are courageous enough to push their limits, listen to my (sometimes legnthy . . .) lectures and put a part of themselves on canvas.

All this being said, I simply want to express my gratitude for being able to do what I love and having the opportunity to share it with others. My most sincere Thanks to every collector, student, friend and family member who has supported, encouraged and celebrated with me along the way.

This has been a banner year; creating and selling more paintings in the past 12 months than the last 2 years combined. As a way of saying Thank You , my current collection of work is being offered, through January 08, 2012 at prices from nearly 7 years ago when I began this career.

The image above, "Bamboo and Sake" is one of the paintings that I'm offering at the 2004 price. The full collection and more information is on my website

I'll be popping in and out of the blog for the next month, but my primary focus is going to be on getting ready for the next 2 shows, one in March (at Artists Gallery) and one in April at the Philadelphia Sketch Club.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A change of pace

I needed a change of pace for a bit from land and sky work. My roots are in classic still life painting, and every now and then I just need to dive back into that pool. Simple subjects, pears, but when you really dig into them you begin to see all of these beautiful nuances of colour you realize how real beauty is in the most simple things. I've begun a another that I'll post tomorrow.

This is being offered directly from me, unframed. If you're interested in purchasing it, please contact me via e-mail.

Title: Content
Size: 5 x 8
Medium: Oil on Panel
Price: $150

Friday, November 11, 2011

As The Night Begins

A variation on the theme of moonlight on water.

This painting is being offered through Artists' Gallery, now through December 04th.

Title: As The Night Begins
Size: 6 x 11
Medium: Oil on Panel



The fascination with the sky, it's movement, light and abstraction continues. Many of my students don't believe me when I advise them that one of the best ways to get a realist painting is to approach it abstractly - when we can do that, (it's not that easy) we let go of our "symbol system" and preconceived notions about what we think something looks like and are able to get closer to the real truth of the thing. If we are lucky and get into that state of mind, there's also the strong chance that we can "double dip" into the experience and pull out the emotional qualities of the subject we are studying.

This painting is being offered through Artists' Gallery, now through December 04

Title: Quietude
Size: 9 x 9
Medium: Oil on Panel

Agg, lousy photo of this painting - I really need to get a new camera. I was going to re-photograph it today but it sold in the gallery this weekend! Thank you!

Sunrise at National Elk Refuge, Wyoming

Just outside of Jackson Hole Wyoming is the National Elk Refuge. When you are leaving Jackson Hole to get to the airport, you pass the National Elk Refuge.

As we were driving to the airport very, very early to catch our flight back to Philadelphia, we witnesses a most incredible sunrise. We stopped the car, breathed in the amazing light and mist of the morning and reluctantly, got back in the car to catch our flight. I will never forget the magical, nearly sacred feeling of that morning.

This painting is being offered through Artists' Gallery, now through December 04

Title: Sunrise at National Elk Refuge, Wyoming
Size: 10 x 16
Medium: Oil on Panel


Approaching Rain and Cobalt Blue

Martha's Vineyard has always been a special place for me. One of the most striking things is as that the weather changes, it is so immediate, so "in your face", especially when you are on the beach.

I was going though some old reference photographs I had vividly remembered one day when the weather changed on a dime, the deep blue of the sky was being overpowered by oncoming rainclouds. This painting is about that immediate, nearly overpowering feeling that I experienced as the clouds came in over the bay.

This painting will be offered through Artists' Gallery now through December 04th.

Title: Approaching Rain and Cobalt Blue
Size: 18 x 18
Medium: Oil on Linen

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Galaxy 2011 / NOVA Art Show and Sale

The Galaxy 2011 / NOVA Art show and sale is something I've participated in for 4 years now. An invitational show, 70 regional artists are brought together for 4 days at the Bucks County Courthouse for the event.

It's for a great cause - NOVA (Network of Victims Assistance) an organization dedicated to helping those who are victims of violent crimes including physical and sexual abuse. 40% of the proceeds of the sales of these paintings goes to NOVA to run their programs as they charge nothing to the individuals they help. It is one of the few non-profits that I will either donate or sell my work for - they run a great organization and hold a well juried, top notch show.

So if you are in the area this weekend, the show opens Thursday, November 03 and runs through Sunday, November 06, you may want to swing by and see some really great work by local artists and artisans.

Title: End of the Day
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 22 x 28

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blowing Through Town

As season's shift, high winds herald the changing of the guard. A storm blew through yesterday giving us an incredible show of light and wind for the past 12 hours. Luckily, I can capture some of this from my studio. I was also able to capture some beautiful skies this morning just after sunrise, I'll be working on those paintings over the weekend.

Title: Blowing Through Town
Size: 6 x 9, oil on panel


Monday, October 17, 2011

Warm Night

Title: Warm Night
Size: 9 x 9
Medium: Oil on Panel

If you are interested in purchasing this painting, please click here for more information

There is something magical about a warm summer night by the sea, the kind where you know the heat won't fade much with the passing sun. A light breeze comes in off the ocean, the brine in the air becomes more pungent. Wrapped in warmth and colour, these are priceless gifts.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

View from My Studio

Title: Late Autumn View from my Studio
Size: 6 x 9, Oil on Panel


The second floor of my barn has these incredible French windows that look out over a field, I'm quite lucky to be able to see and study the beautiful skies and changing seasons, while in the comfort of my studio. Very lucky indeed!

Small Paintings, Big Ideas

Title: Late Afternoon, Peace Valley Park
Size: 6 x 9, Oil on Panel


Some of you may know about how I paint my large landscapes. I do a field study, small in size and quickly executed and then write tons of notes - everything from the temperature and light direction to the mood of the place and then take a reference photo. When I get back in the studio, they are translated into larger works.

At the last show, these small works virtually sold out. So I've decided to do more of them and offer them unframed (which can be considerable cost, depending on the frame and framer) and directly from my blog. This ongoing series of small works is being titled "Small paintings, Big Ideas".

One of my favourite local places to paint is Peace Valley Park in Doylestown and this scene begged to be painted. Light shifts very quickly, especially this time of year later in the day, but the challenge is incredible fun!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Title: Sunrise, National Elk Refuge, Wyoming
Size: 10 x 16
Medium: Oil on Panel
Framed, contact artist for purchase information.

I decided it was time for a little bit of a change from the East Coast. For many years, I went out to Wyoming for vacation, and the sky does amazing things. One early, early morning - I think it was about 5:30 am, we were driving to the Jackson Hole Airport to return home. We had to stop the car, as the sunrise was so amazingly beautiful.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fall Classes

September is just around the corner, and my schedule of fall classes in Oil painting is filling quickly. If you are interested in taking a class this season, contact me via my website. Here's what's being offered:

Landscape Painting - Tuesday mornings from 10 am to 1 pm. (Class filled)

Independent Study - Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 (class filled)

Beginning Oil Painting - Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 pm: Perfect for someone who has never painted in oils before or has not done it in a while and needs a from the "ground up" approach. Materials, preparing surfaces, brushes and what they can and can't do, mixing paints, obtaining colour harmonies, composition etc. More information is on my website

Still Life Painting - Saturday mornings from 10 am to 1 pm. Still life is a great way to learn how to oil paint; your subject does not move, the lighting is controlled and you can really take your time on the drawing, which is so important. Suitable for beginners through intermediate students.

For more information please visit my website and click on the "Classes" link on the navigation bar:

Monday, August 15, 2011

What an Opening!

The calm before the storm. This is a partial scene of the gallery before the crowds came.

Paul Grecian and I at the opening, during the unveiling of our joint project.

Thank you everyone, who attended the opening of "A Sense of Place"! The turnout was wonderful, everyone had a great time and a lot of work sold for both Paul and I.

We will continue to "replenish the stock" as the month goes on, so if you did not have the opportunity to see the show, it is up through the 4th of September.

Attached are a couple of photos, the first one is of Paul Grecian and I after the unveiling of our joint project works - we both worked off of one "neutral image" - Paul did his photographer's magic and I painted my interpretation of the same scene - it was so much fun, as neither of us saw the other's work until we unveiled them at the show. A photograph of the painting will be posted soon.

Thank you again, everyone for such a great time!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meeting of Land, Sea and Sky

Title: Meeting of Land, Sea and Sky
Medium: Oil on Linen
Size: 6 x 9


Monday, August 8, 2011

End of a Summers' Day

Title: End of a Summers' Day
Medium: Oil on Linen
Size: 18 x 12


Friday, July 29, 2011

Title: Billowing Up
Size: 18 x 28,
Medium: Oil on Linen
Framed, Available through Artists' Gallery

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Sense of Place - August Show

Title: Sunset Over Provincetown
Oil on Canvas
15 x 30
Framed: $2,250
Contact me directly for purchase information

Opening on Saturday, August 06 at the Artists' Gallery, Paul Grecian and I will exhibit a large selection of our landscape work. The majority of the paintings I'm showing are my "skyscapes". I've had a complete fascination with painting the sky, it's a fabulous blend of classical techniques (for compostion, colour, drawing, etc.) but many of the effects are things I learned when I was painting abstractly for a while. The best of both worlds for me.

As the next few weeks go by, I will be posting images of the new works here on the blog.

Artists' Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, NJ

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Morning on the Eastern Shore

Morning on the Eastern Shore
Oil on Linen
11 x 14
$800 contact me for purchase information

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Late Winter Sunset on ByOak Farm

Medium: Oil on Linen, 8 x 14,
Price: $900 (framed) Contact me for purchase information


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Three Amigos

Medium: Oil on Linen
Size: 12 x 11
Price: $750 (framed) Contact me for purchase information


Monday, April 18, 2011

A Passing Storm

Medium: Oil on Linen, mounted on Board
Size: 21 x 20

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cape Cod Sunset

Title: Cape Cod Sunset
Size: 9 x 12, Oil on Panel, with gold frame
Price: $700 Contact me for purchase

Here in the NorthEast, we are finally coming to the end of an incredibly long and difficult winter. During these months, I've spent time working from several studies I did from last years' trip up to Cape Cod (as well as some private commissions.)

My process for creating landscape work is a combination of plein air studies, reference photographs and tons of field notes. I begin by working the actual piece in the field, which is then finished in the studio. For large works, anything over 16 x 20 in size, I will work a smaller study and then enlarge it when I get back to the studio. The goal is to capture the essence of the place. This means focusing on the major elements such as composition, colour, atmosphere, and most importantly for me, the light and mood. Yes, I photograph the scene, but when I get back to the studio to finish the work, the goal is not to simply copy the photograph. The reason is, too much information is lost - especially values, colour temperatures and most importantly, the feel of the place and the sensory experience.

I'm sure you've experienced a beautiful scene, taken a photograph, looked at it later and realized "the photo doesn't do it justice". This is where my field notes come into play. I write down every possible thing about the experience that I can. For example, what was the temperature and feeling of the air - warm, cool, soft, brisk. What sounds was I hearing? Wind in the trees? How did it sound? Smells? Was it earthy and loamy or brackish? All of these sensory experiences play a vital role in interpreting the landscape. It's not just about making it look "exactly like that place", its more about telling you what the experience was at that time.

This painting was created in Truro on Cape Cod at the end of a warm, late summer evening. The air was cooling as the sun went down, and the last bits of light radiated a gentle warmth on my face. The sounds were few; the distant lap of water as the tide was out, a few gulls and very soft wind. As I worked to capture the essence of the place, I noted the difference between the peacefulness of the place and the energy of the quickly changing light and the brilliance of the light.