Sunday, December 27, 2009

Seasonal Inspiration

Every Christmas I enjoy painting holiday decoration. It helps to justify the amount of effort it takes to hull out and assemble this stuff. The forest of mixed matched trees that grew up on the table in front of the window. I hung one of my favorite Christmas paintings in the window. I had no wall space so the window worked, it fit well with the table top trees. The above image shows the finished painting and the table top inspiration.

10" x 8" oil on board
Here is the finished painting showing that strange little snowman guy placing an ornament on the tree. The little puff of tinsel on the green ball looks a little like a lit bomb, it gives a different spin to the narrative this image invokes.
8" x 8" oil on board
This painting is of this years green tree with it's multi colored light. This is a tall skinny tree, so I used a lot of long pointy decorations. The beaded garland was literally thrown to give it a extremely casual, drippy look. I tend to be attracted to unusual vintage holiday decorations. This tree gave me a place to display some of them, like the cluster of white plastic holly leaves with a couple of balls and tiny santa head. I find the complexity of a Christmas tree a challenge to capture in a painting. It seems so enticing before the tree is up, and so overwhelming once the painting begins.

more of my Christmas images are posted at:

Monday, December 21, 2009

gold fish

8" x 5.5" oil on board
The above image is a quick study I did while teaching my painting class a month or so ago. Having little time to work on my painting, being busy making the rounds assisting my students, I had to leave my still life unattended for most of the session. Yes this was a still life. I have tiny carved fish, smaller than the figures on my painting. Often during this class I returned to my easel to discover that my fish were rearranged. Adam it was not funny! if you were within reach my paintbrush would have left it's mark upon you.

Apx. 7' x 3' pigment on glass
This image is another from Artful Living the design showroom/fundraiser that was set up in Modesto this past month. The goldfish painting on glass, was a first for me. I used the small painting above and the tiny carved fish as my subject reference. It is painted on the reverse side of the glass. The image is flipped when viewed. The very heavy glass make it difficult to lift to view the other side while working on it. I worked alongside Kristi Hughes as she painted a similar sheet of glass. Unfortunately I did not get her painting in this photograph, only the steel wall bracket shows on the upper right edge.

Monday, December 14, 2009

more pods

apx. 5' x 2.5' mixed medium on canvas
This photo is of a painting of mine on display at a designer's showroom in Modesto. It is a departure from my traditional oil painting. This was painted with layers of varying thicknesses that I sanded through to achieve the finished effect. The pods are the same as the ones shown in the following post.


10" x 8" oil on board
I do not know what these pods are. They grow on a tree in big clusters and will turn a dark coppery brown when left on the tree. I harvested these a few years ago in late spring when they were still green, they have dried to a pail sandy brown color. As they aged, some have opened up revealing the seeds inside. These were painted on a white cloth with a direct light sourse creating strong contrasting shadows.

8" x 8" oil on board

Friday, November 20, 2009

platters & pomegranates

Red pomegranates with the whites of the table's top are the focus of these paintings. The top painting with light coming through the window adding plaid shadows to the composition. The seed pods giving an earthier nuance to the graphic starkness of the plaid, while the branch mimics the linear aspect of the grid. The second painting the tablecloth creates the sense of depth within this composition. Placement of the smaller platter in front and the idiosyncratic relationship of the dishes challenge the typical perceptions of perspective.

both 8" x 10" oil on board

Saturday, November 14, 2009

White bowls

6.5"x8" oil on board
The painting above both have a white bowl as a focal point of the painting. The top was painted during class I was teaching, a student was working with this group of objects and this was my attempt to demonstrate the use of color when painting a white object. My focus being to capture the illusion of the roundness of the bowl. This was a quick painting, I would steal in a few brush strokes as I rotated around the room providing guidance to the dozen students.

I would have liked to paint larger but my large easel was being used at the time to paint the platter in the previous post. I was interested in the handling of the crest, it is not as much of focal point in this painting as it was on the platter.
8"x8" oil on board

Sunday, October 18, 2009

white on white

This painting of a large oval platter sitting on a white table cloth. The dish it self is 2 feet long and measures about 40 inches on the canvas. This monochromatic (maybe it is more of a non-o-chromatic) subject has offered up some interesting challenges. Working white on white I still made use of my full pallet. I focused more on the color temperature of the paint. This painting with it's oversized ellipse as a subject offered more challenges then the lack of color, I needed an accurate representation of the shape. Typically I tend to freehand all the shapes in my paintings. Not wanting to exhibit a warped and distorted likeness of the dish, I needed to render the ellipses accurately. I worked out the shapes I wanted and created a paper stencil to insure faithful depiction of the platter. This is a technique I recall from my childhood, my father used it with his still life paintings. The crest on the platter is different than what I painted on my canvas. I replaced the top two lines of copy within the crest with my logo, the foreshorten words looked to much like a face.
30" x 48" oil on canvas

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

some sort of pods

Out side of the Modesto's Senior Center where I am currently teaching an oil painting class is this tree with some pod shape growths upon it. There are green ones and some older looking brown ones. I'm not sure what type of tree this is, I imagine it to have some orchid like flowers on it is spring or earlier summer–but I do not know if it so.
I teach there for a few hours on Monday afternoons. The paintings in this post are from the first 3 classes of this session. I set up my easel and a small still life before each class. My fellow painters typically are working on subjects of there choosing, typically using photographic references. Although I am busy with assisting students during the class I try to squeeze in a brush stroke or two on my painting as I go. I am trying to instill the concept that a painting does not have to take a lot of time to complete. As the class size has grown to a dozen or more my time to work on my paintings is often cut short.
Having a little less time to work on the above painting, it seems less complete, but it may be my favorite of the three. The course runs in 6 week sessions, there is only one class left in this session – it has passed quickly. Another session begins the following week.
each 8" x 6.5" oil on board

Thursday, September 3, 2009

green elephant

This is top shelf or at least it was until the elephant went to where gifts go, to the recipient. This jolly green pachyderm is no longer sits atop. Still got the little orange fish though. I like the graphic division of space in this painting. With the underside of the shelf visible the space is divided in to horizontal stripes.
6.5" x 8" oil on board

Below it can be seen in it's prior environment.

I just finished the first tomato from this years garden. I planted late (july 4) but better late than never. To celebrate this harvest I made Pesto (also first of the year).
I had triangles of toast with pesto and tomato slices. Can't wait to do that again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

not so still lives

This painting with it's curvaceous piece of pottery is a detail of the clutter that surrounds me. Things just pile up, I prefer the term "stack". I tend to create clusters of stacked objects. It is pretty easy when you have a lot to build with, like me. I find these constructions to have unlimited potential taking in limitations of space and gravity.

I like to paint the same subject more than once I don't feel I captured everything I experience in a subject if I don't give it a second try. The proceeding blog entry, the one that follows this, shows another view of this collection. Things are always in transition, these may be still lives but they are always evolving. some subtle additions or subtractions or maybe it's a complete make over. The following are to views of the same area one from last week and is just days past a month ago.  

all 10" x 8" oil on board

painting in process

I thought about taking photos of a painting in process, and actually did it. This painting of the stacking by the fireplace is the second I did of this grouping. As always I tinted my panel with a wash of Cadmium Red Light. I then blocked out my composition with more of the Cad. Red, adding Ultramarine Blue as I refine the shapes, blocking in the darker areas.
I add spots of color to hold the shapes. The color at this point will indicate the final color, but it will be added to along the process of the painting. I start thinking about color temperature at this point. If I want something to recede or be in shadow I often push it back with Ultramarine blue, I like the translucent quality of the color so I layer it with the local color.

The final painting.
10" x 8" oil on board 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

tiki joy rideDid you hear the one about the tikies

It took only 3 tries to get this image to post.

Did you hear the one about the tikies in the Edsel? Well they it are; carved wooden tikies in a toy '58 Edsel upon the table top that has been in the last few postings. I like the shapes in the upper half of this painting, there is a simplicity in the division of form that contrasts with the more detailed bottom half. Having painted just about all the elements in this painting before it is the handling of the paint that keeps the subject interesting for me. As a bit of an old car buff the rendering of a car can destroy an image for me. I try not to supply to much detail because that is where the errors show up. But I want to know the car when I see it represented in a painting. The '58 Edsel is quite distinct that can make it easier to recognize but still a challenge.

10" x 8" oil on board

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

cosmos - library table

In my post from earlier today I show paintings with this table top as the background. I was having technical difficulties and could not include these images with that post. Above is a picture of my Studio Gallery taken in May 2007. The table was painted in 1992 in Laguna Beach. I recall spending over an hour painting each layer of the spiral, each spiral and crosshair had numerous layers of paint (6 to 12). I layered the paint and sanded through to reveal the colors. Many of the layers were metallic or iridescent paints. It is hard to commit that much time to a project. If I paint a piece of furniture now I find a faster way to get the effect I want. I do like this painting technique, a detail of the table's top is below.

table top treasures

Here are two recent paintings of small objects sitting on a painted table top. I Incorporated the spirals of the painted surface as part of the composition. I like the division of the negative space that surrounds the focal objects, creating a sense of distance upon a flat surface. Of course painting from the same surface does give me a lot of paintings that have a violet/grey/blue background. The relationship of the subject to it's environment is effected by countless outside influences including light, that make the colors appear different.

both 10" x 8" oil on board

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

db mid-century

Placing a mirror on my large easel has given me the opportunity to do a self portrait. This view of me with my favorite stack of lamp shades. The lamp had one shade as most do, but the bulb seemed to intense; rather than changing the wattage of the bulb I found placing an second shade on the lamp solved the problem. The top shade having no other place to live (if this can be called living) ended up on top on the other two. I liked it there! With a mid-century star clock like the sun rising (or setting) above it all.

8" x 5.5" oil on board

I cut off 2" of hair from the back of my head yesterday, it was time.

I just posted for the first time in many months at a: 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

old enough to need glasses

A mannequin head adorned with costume jewelry, layers of hats and a outdated pair of spectacles is the subject of this painting. This collage of objects stands aside the mantle with a stem of Moneyplant. It seems easier to paint a portrait of a living person than the features of this stationary bust. Sometime in this head's past silver spray paint was used on it. No longer peaches and cream, it's completion more painterly than actual skin, making rendering it  a little more difficult.
10" x 8" oil on board

Sunday, July 19, 2009

still lives

Most recently I have been painting more on 10" x 8" panels. I need to guesso more of the 8x8's, but that has not happened yet. These still lives are of things that surround me where i paint. Above the weighty tomato and the vintage postal scale are the only placed objects in this composition. Surrounded by subjects of previous paintings; the old scale and ripe fruit seem to expound a story yet to be told.

In this one, the objects are as they sit across the room from my easel collecting dust. Included in this arrangement there is a found painting on a block of wood I found over a decade ago when I moved into a studio in San Francisco. Objects tend to stack up around me including these vases and glass balls, one of them topped with a cocktail monkey. The branches with dried pods in the background were fresh three years ago when in my studio in Modesto.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


This view from my easel features a pair of figures engaged in the reward of the harvest. The quantity of things that pile up around me makes me wonder how ever they could come to harvest. I've had this pair for at least 25 years, this is the first time they ended up in a painting. With such an accumulation of things amassing around me, it is a challenge to show there relations to each other.
10" x 8" oil on board

Friday, July 3, 2009

plum trees

This was painted plein air along the route from Halfmoon Bay to Palto Alto. I drove for miles looking for a spot to paint. I forgot my hat and my painting umbrella was not in the car (actually it has not been there for a while, I meant to pack it like the hat). I drove the coast north from Santa Cruz, it was to cold and foggy then to hot and shadeless. I love driving that area and have not been there in years. I was being followed to closely by a monster pickup on a windy stretch of route 84 when I pulled over as soon as the shoulder was wide enough. There was shade just behind my car and a eye catching vista. The shade lasted only long enough for me to get started but I stuck it out.

8" x 8" oil on board

While painting this painting I was reminded of a painting I did in high school. It was a landscape that had trees growing up a hillside. My Father helped me out with the trees. I could envision the brushstrokes he made on my field of hooker green that represented the trees. 
It felt like I was not painting alone.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

hot shoes

Recently visiting a creative friend; commiserating about how things just seem to pile up around us. We both tend to collect. As artists we see the potential in things or we admire the aesthetic of an object and seem to have the need to possess it. Others recognizing our needs and reaching out to aid us, often as a drop off point for there no longer desired objects. These shoes given to Cloe because they could not be worn comfortably. What's comfort has to do with it when these suede Guess stilettos are this luscious persimmon color. I had to borrow them to include in a painting or two. Shades of reddish orange are Hot.
Toe to Toe    8" x 8" oil on board

Heal to Toe   8" x 8"  oil on board
I love the shoe's color. They work so well on the painted table top. I especially like the way the art nouveau vase is rendered in this one. This vase has made it into many paintings already and this may be my favorite rending to date.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

jingle bell

The white satin ribbon tied to a ball of a bell. Sitting on the edge of a painted table the reflection of the ribbon within the shadow caught my attention first. The cool tones of the table and ribbon make the warm reflections upon the silvery bell appear golden. This caught me by surprise, I knew it's chrome surface I typically see as being cool. I studied the painting realizing that I captured the actual color relationships and not a preconceived notion of what it should look like. Maybe, I pushed the warm tones to enhance the overall color harmony of the painting. Guess I like that way.
8" x 8" oil on board

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Trumpet's bud

One of my favorite flowers Angels Trumpet has large trumpet shaped blooms that hang down from it's branches. A friend gave me a cutting of his angels trumpet with a small bud hanging under one of the leaves. The flower began to form but fell off before it developed. I hoped it would open more but found the star shape of the closed flower intriguing enough to paint. My cutting seems to be taking root, but it may be a while before I get to paint one of these again. The vase is sitting on a leaf shaped Royal Haeger plate.
8" x 10" oil on board

Sunday, May 24, 2009

back yard

This was painted from my back porch on Mother's Day. The last time this corinthian capital showed up in a painting was a couple of years ago while my Mom was visiting. This was a way for me to honor her in my heart that day. I have bowling balls in my yard, close to a dozen of them most in shades of blue and purple, though there is a dark red and a gold in the lot. A white soccer ball joined the bowling balls showing up in my lawn back in January. This week I noticed that some of the balls were getting lost in the grass. Today's post is to celebrate the fact that I just finished mowing the lawn. All balls are again in view.
8" x 8" oil on board

Saturday, May 23, 2009

three vases

This is what I painted today. It's not all I've done since posting last, but there is always some reason for not posting. Not liking the the quality of the photos is my current excuse. Posting this gets something up before another day or night goes by.

These three vases happen to be on the table near my easel. I would need to find a place to put them if I wanted there space for another subject. I liked the style contrast of the three of them. The ribbed green and yellow vase; a piece of Catalina Pottery with a hairline crack – all space age and modern in design, 3 ribs extending down for support. The blue green vase in the foreground; thicker and less refined in construction juxtaposed with the sphere of thin yellow glass set askew on it's lip. The largest of the three, a deep cobalt blue with a glaze dripping in shades of light brown around it's shoulders is adorned with an art nouveau floral motif hand applied in gold. (Once half of a pair, it's twin now reduced to shards on a box)
10" x 8" oil on board

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This is: R.O.B. Robotic Operating Buddy. It is a Nintendo robot from 1985, it is hard to believe that is so long ago. I've had it for a while but haven't painted it before. I think it should be incorporated in a composition with other objects. It usually sits on a table holding a stack of bowls over a larger bowl, much like a chip and dip ensemble. Maybe now that he stands alone, he will be joined with other objects. I refer to it as "he" but gender if any is unknown.
8" x 8" oil on board

Sunday, May 10, 2009

fruit and flowers

It been a while since I had boards to paint on. I ran out a few weeks back, found a couple here and there but they were few and far between. I did have some canvases but not the 8x8 or 8x10 panels I was used to painting on. I had to have some panels cut, I no longer have access to a table saw myself. I now have a stack almost 2 feet tall. Alas, they all needed to be gessoed, this set me back almost another two weeks. I don't enjoy applying gesso, I always end up wearing some of it. I did get some of them primed and ready to be painted on. I used two already, neither shown on this post. These paintings were products of the last of the boards I cut myself. The roses above and the papaya below both have a large Poppytrails platter as the subject's base. I like the green color of this dish with the oranges of the flowers and fruit. Actually, I selected this one for the fruit, it had not been put away when I was setting up the roses. I probably have a dozen large platters in shades of green, most are subtle shades between chartreuse and turquoise, that is not counting the very dark green one. Seems I also collect platters, at least they stack well. I realise the scale of the papaya is hard to judge. The fruit was close to a foot long, the platter a couple of inches larger. I seldom spend time with papayas, but knew the color of there flesh was something I wanted to paint.
both 8" x 8" oil on board

The camellias in the bottom painting were the last off the bush in front of my house. When I first moved here I felt lucky to have one or two flowers a year on this shrub. Who knew that if you water it once in a while it may decide to flower. It was covered with blossoms this year. This painting and the roses above share the same vase. I've had it for quite a while, it seems to have resurfaced, I can't recall when I used it last in a painting. I did open a few boxes (10) that were stored in my basement recently. I did not think it was out of action for nine years, but that may be the case. Time goes speeding by...
10" x 8" oil on canvas