Monday, October 24, 2016

This Blog Has Moved!

For the past few months, I've been building a new website that is (hopefully) more user-friendly and offers more options for all of my wonderful fans and supporters.

What's new?

  • Along with offering beautifully framed originals, prints are now available in a variety of media including fine art paper, stretched canvas, and metal. All of the mediums available are professional quality, but the metal prints are my current favorite! They're super sleek and make for a clean, contemporary presentation.

  • There's a Wall Preview feature so you can get an excellent idea of how a painting might look in your home or office space. 

  • A Small Works Gallery of high-quality, affordable originals is available and will have new additions coming soon. 

  • The blog newly titled "Inspirations and Creative Insights" will still be alive and active. However, it will only be available on my new site. So, you'll have to join my site to keep updated to new postings, works in progress and exclusive member only promotions. I do apologize for this extra step if you're an existing subscriber. 

Even though the site needs some polishing, it is up and running.
I invite you visit and join me at

Thank you and see you there!

Monday, October 17, 2016

4 Reasons Why I Love to Demo

I had the opportunity of performing a landscape painting demo for a local art club this week. Last year I judged an art show for them, and they invited me back so I could share my thoughts and process regarding painting.

The demo was well attended and was full of enthusiastic kindred spirits.  I thoroughly enjoy the entire demo process because of a love of meeting new people, telling related stories, sharing what I've learned on my artistic journey thus far and because art is a somewhat private activity teaching and giving demos helps me connect with the creative community.

My subject was a location that I frequent that never falls short of being inspiring. I chose this particular scene because it had unusual shapes, appealing light/shadow patterns and excellent depth due to aerial perspective.

I worked from a photo displayed on a tablet beside my easel. Among the many points that I covered, I explained how and why I chose to redesign a landscape formatted image into a square format.

Given the brief demo time allotted, this painting remains in a "work-in-progress" status. You'll see this one again in a future post upon completion.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Are Your Traditional Portraits Getting Stale? Try This Fix.

In the spirit of October, I thought this pastel sketch would be a fun one to share. I don't recall what the model was going for with this costume. Maybe a David Bowe reference or a modern gothic twist on Beethoven, but I imagined him to be an off-off Broadway vampire opera character. 

I enjoy working with models who are creative and go the extra mile by designing their outfits to better the artist/model experience. Traditional portraits are all well and good, but when a model arrives at an open session with props and costumes, you know it's going to make an interesting painting. 

Over the course of the past few years, I've had the opportunity to paint pirates, gypsies, circus themes, superheroes and pulp fiction characters. These creative subjects spark my imagination and tap into memories of my "younger years" when I was following aspirations of becoming a comic book artist.

The area of art I focus on now has apparently changed. However, I still fall back on my early training because the core principals of art are never affected by genre.

Title: The Vampire Opera
Painted On: Canson Mi-Teintes Ivy Pastel Paper
Medium: NuPastel & Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils
Dimensions: 9x12 inches.

Monday, October 3, 2016

One Thing I've Learned from Painting in Extremes

The record triple digit heat of summer in the desert has finally ended. The cooler fall temperatures are moving in, and it's safe to paint outdoors again without the risk of burning flesh and heatstroke. 

As much as I love plein air painting, I'm not an extremist when it comes to pushing boundaries to get a painting. I know and have seen plenty of artists who present themselves as performance artists or daredevils painting on the edges of sheer cliffs, under hurricane conditions, in sub-zero temperatures or the opposite. Kudos to the artists who can and do. They may reap high rewards if they make it back safe without incident.  

I feel these examples are opportune times to break out the camera, take a picture and head back to the studio. I enjoy the ideal, quiet breezes, comfortable temperatures, blue skies and cotton ball clouds.

Not to say that I haven't painted in snow, rain, and wind before because I have.  What I learned from working under those conditions is that overall, the more comfortable the environmental conditions, the more likely I am to produce a winning painting.

The photos above are from a very recent second day out in this plein air season. As you can see, it was a beautiful day, and I was able to lay the foundation for another potential gallery piece. 

I'll post the finished piece after some adjustments back at the studio.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Below the Surface

In this scenario, the model was mostly in shadow with a rim-light effect on his right side. The drawing below illustrates a true to life interpretation of how the model appeared. 

At the end of the drawing session, I was satisfied with the drawing in regards to the proportions and likeness of the sitter. However, the shading was too dark and gloomy for my liking. 

The model was excited to be our subject of the day and had a lively personality. I felt that my drawing wasn't reflecting this aspect of the sitter. 


The correction (shown above), was to invent a fill light on the shadow side to clean out the heavy mood created by the excessively dark values. A few minutes spent lifting out the darks with a kneaded eraser transformed this entire drawing.  

By doing so, I was able to describe the forms of the face much better than in the first rendition and more importantly reveal the upbeat character of the model. 

I did do some minor finishes on his left shirt collar and better indicating on his ear but for the most part, this was a value adjustment. 

So, which version is correct? I'd say they both are. The "Before" for its "This is how it looks" honesty and the "After" for going beyond surface effect to reveal the sitter's personality. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Price of Free

For those of you who don't know, an open studio is when a group of artists contributes to the model cost and typically there's no instruction provided.

Some artists choose to "gift" their sketches/drawings to the models who were hired to pose for them in open studio sessions.

This kind gesture is nice to do on occasion especially when a model has inspired a large body of work. It shows gratitude and respect for the model.

I've recently witnessed an entire group freely give their drawings to the model at the end of every session when it was not contractually a part of payment.

I attended one such session and when I didn't present the model with my "free" drawing the model quickly began to question, "Aren't you going to give me your drawing?" Immediately followed by, "What are you going to do with it? No one is going to buy a picture of me."

I never experienced this before. I thought to myself, Wow, what a way to discredit years of study and practice.

Despite the chance of falling on deaf ears, I went on to explain that this is a profession and yes, I may not sell this particular drawing, however; it does have a value.

Needless to say, my response was reciprocated with a blank gaze.

My drawings become points of reference. I don't just stash them away never to be seen again. I will routinely go through my collection and critique them to see what areas I could improve on or simply enjoy studying the successful ones.

Every artist has their policies, but I believe when artists don't put a value on their efforts (hobbyist or professional) it devalues the entire craft.

(I'm not referring to donating work for charity fundraisers or Pro Bono work).

Monday, September 12, 2016

Time to Reflect

Reflective light is light bouncing off one object or surface onto another. In this example, the sunlight is bouncing off the ground plane warming the shadows that face downward.

As the height of the cactus becomes too far away from the reflective light of the ground plane to reach there begins a shift from warm to cool in temperature within the shadow shape.

Soon, the cooler blues and blue-violets reflected from the sky above will influence the color temperatures within the shadows.

Title: Desert Texture
Painted on: Centurion Linen Painting Panel.
Medium: Oil
Dimensions: 12x12 inches.

Monday, August 29, 2016

One Trick to Prevent Artistic Burnout

A great trick to prevent artistic burnout is to use a different medium. I tend to favor wet mediums such as acrylic or oil paints for the bulk of my work, but sometimes I find pastel to be a refreshing alternative and a perfect medium for sketching quick poses.

Pastel is a dry medium known for its ability to marry both drawing and painting simultaneously in the creative process. Today's available color ranges seem to be almost endless.

One can quickly become wooed into collecting and even becoming connoisseurs of pastel brands in the attempt to acquire just the right one for the job.

Artists who use pastel as their primary medium can push its boundaries further than ever before.

The sketch above is the result of a one session pose. I used a combination of soft pastel and pastel pencils after a linear charcoal block-in.

The dramatic lighting, the model's bold hair color and complimenting eyeglasses as well as being in a faux fur coat knowing that it was hot outside added to the inspiration of this piece.

* Pastel is available in soft and oil options.

Title: Chillin'
Painted On: Canson Mi-Teintes Ivy Pastel Paper
Medium: Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils, NuPastel, Rembrandt
Dimensions: 9x12 inches.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hot or Not

In case you didn't know, Arizona can and does get incredibly hot during the summer months. Sure, it's a dry heat, but after awhile hot is hot, and one can stand only so much air conditioning, so a lot of residents here are "snowbirds" and only stay during the cooler more agreeable parts of the year.

Those of us who are full-time residents break up the summer by taking shorter vacations a little closer to home. That being either traveling north to the Grand Canyon or further into Utah or Colorado. Others choose to head west into California.

I was fortunate to visit both California and the Grand Canyon this summer.  I will be sharing more paintings and photos with you from these trips in future posts.

Pictured above is yours truly working hard on location at a fantastic location overlooking Laguna Beach. Since moving, it's been a few years since I had been to a beach. The salt air and dynamic coastline were rejuvenating spiritually and artistically.

I was excited to explore this area because Laguna has a long history of plein air painting attached to it as well as being associated with some powerhouse California Impressionist painters such as William Wendt, Franz Bischoff, and Edgar Payne.

The painting I'm working on in the photo just needs a few minor foreground adjustments before I would call it finished. When I complete the painting, I'll be sure to talk more about it in a future post.

In the meantime, I'll continue working in the studio until the summer heat gives way to the fall air.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Greener on the Other Side

When I relocated from the east coast to the Southwest, I thought I'd never see lush green landscapes again. Nothing but dirt and tumbleweeds were in my future. Was I wrong!

There are times of the year when the desert plant life is just as rich as what I knew back east. The biggest difference in the greens of the Southwest is that there's so much variety from fully saturated color to the gray and muted.

I haven't changed or added any new colors to my palette in the transition. The mixtures of colors I use now are just within a different gamut than before. It has been exciting to explore newly discovered color combinations due to my geographic change.

Title: Desert Textures
Painted on: Centurion Linen Panel
Dimensions: 12x12 inches
Status: Available

Monday, August 8, 2016

New Beginnings

"New Beginnings" was painted en plein air at the White Tank Mountains, Arizona. The warm glow of the morning light was the inspiration for this painting. Each layer of this scene helps support the overall mood.

The strategy for this piece was to work from background to foreground. Morning and late afternoon light change very quickly. Knowing this, start with the areas of the scene that will disappear in moments.

First, the sky is laid in followed by the mountains and hills.

Adding incremental amounts of detail and contrast to each layer. The values and color temperature of the background elements set the tone for the entire painting.

With the stage set, the cactus and foreground can be fully realized.

Title: New Beginnings
Painted on: Ampersand Gessobord
Medium: Acrylic
Dimensions: 8x8 inches
Status: Available

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Line of Wisdom

My goal in an open portrait drawing session is to record an actual likeness of the model. Many artists will flatter by making the sitter appear taller or shorter, younger, idealize their features give them plastic surgery on paper if you will. These are things to consider when taking on a commission piece.

However, in a drawing practice scenario all the quirkiness and so-called imperfections are an artist's playground. We have become so accustomed to seeing overly photoshopped, airbrushed, high key lighting that obliterates any chance of seeing a wrinkle that when we see one in our mirror, we're mortified.

It's okay, wrinkles are natural. You've earned them and if you don't have one, you will. So, include them in your drawings!

Medium: Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil & General's Charcoal White
Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan
Dimensions: 11x14 inches
Status: Available

Monday, July 25, 2016

Wondering Eyes

Like it or not, we need to consider composition every time we begin a new painting. The composition is about arranging shapes in a pleasing manner within your picture.

Master artist: Edgar Payne wrote the book on composition called "Composition of Outdoor Painting." It's a must have book for any landscape painter. In it, he goes on to describe and illustrate 15 standard blueprints to build a composition. I won't list them all here but will point out how I incorporate his principals in my work.

A stable composition can engage a viewer, and a weak one won't demand any attention.  One can welcome a viewer into a painting, and another can become a road block or quick exit rushing them along to see someone else's work in a gallery.

The use of unequal distribution of shape and value are essential to creating interest. Strategic placement of brushwork, shapes, edges and contrast control how the viewer's eye travels within a design.

Dividing a space into thirds is an easy but efficient way of placing a center of interest/focal point. (Shown above).

The eye can bounce from one object to the next like a ball in a pinball machine. The goal is to design shapes that don't allow the viewer an easy exit. (Shown above).

To simplify, this can fall under Edgar Payne's "O" structure. (Shown above).

Title: Best Seats
Painted On: RayMar Archival Panel.
Medium: Artist Quality Oil.
Dimensions: 8x10 inches
Status: Available

Monday, July 18, 2016

Time Travel

Photo provided by collector.

Once in awhile, it's healthy to pause and reflect on our artistic journey. Artists go through many stages in their development. At the beginning trying to understand the language of art; learning to draw, decoding color mixtures and value relationships, design, etc. While acquiring that foundation of the fundamental principals, we may explore genres from abstract to realism looking for our artist's voice. 

Step into any art store and we are overwhelmed by a myriad of possible mediums to use. I have splashed in watercolor, dabbled in gouache, been bold in acrylic and adventurous in oil. Ultimately, arriving at what will be the tools of our trade.

Above, is an early example of one of my acrylic paintings done in the year 2000. It is full of vivid, saturated color the very characteristics that attracted me to acrylic paint.

A quote from the owner of this painting, "What attracted me to the painting was the use of the deep blue colors which I found soothing and relaxing. The colors blend beautifully." - Frank.

The palette is bright, energetic and brushwork loose and I love that. It straddles abstraction and representation. Two qualities that I still try to have evident in my current work.

My use of color has changed a little along the way. Currently,  I've been exploring more muted naturalistic color but still like to push saturation when I can in a painting.This painting was a natural part of my growth process. It was both a stepping stone and a milestone and for the style that it's in, it certainly holds its own.

For all of the qualities previously mentioned, I know this painting is still bringing enjoyment to its owner. I hope for many years to come.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Raise your Glasses

So many times in an open portrait studio setting its requested that the model removes his or her glasses. Followed by the comment, "Because it's so hard to draw glasses." Well, first you will never become good at drawing glasses if you don't practice. (Or anything else for that matter).

Second, glasses clearly reveal exactly how the head is placed in space. If you follow the front of the eyeglass frame where the lenses are and compare that angle to the temples (arms), you can have the head's perspective laid down quickly. The hinge of the frame can assist in deciding what the front plane and side plane features are.

In the diagram below, I used the hinge of the glasses to separate the front and side plane of the head. Based on the angle of the arm of the eyeglasses a cube in perspective can be established. Proportional divisions can be places if need be. I didn't physically draw a cube on my paper, but when observing the model, I superimpose the cube in my mind's eye.

This portrait is rather tame with its perspective. The more the head is tilted in space, the more you'll appreciate having the model wear their glasses.

Another thing to consider is that if you're going for a true likeness of a person find out if they wear glasses full time or only some of the time. Some people look completely different with and without their glasses. Eyeglasses can become part of someone's identity and character. Choosing to remove them can make an otherwise "correct" drawing still appear off in its attempt for a likeness.

Medium: Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil & General's Charcoal White
Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan
Dimensions: 11x14 inches.
Status: Available

Monday, July 4, 2016

Know Your Palette

Creating color charts is an eye-opening exercise that comes highly recommended by master artist Richard Schmid. Exact directions on how to execute these color tables are in his book Alla Prima. One of the best books written about painting in my opinion.

The purpose of the charts is to give the artist insight to how their chosen palette of colors interacts with each other. The charts then provide hardcopy color navigation to their color mixes. Understanding how your chosen colors interact is priceless information not only for the beginning artist but the advanced as well.

I don't use the charts for specific formulas per se but to support a visual memory as to which color combinations will get me closest to my desired target without convoluting the mix, in turn, helping accelerate the color mixing process.

Although a somewhat tedious job to complete, color charts can provide an incredible amount of information.  Depending on how many colors you use will determine how many charts, swatches and hours you will spend making them.

I'm currently using a modified double primary palette. Which is a warm and cool version of each primary color on the color wheel. Using just six colors plus white I tapped out at 500 swatches but could still mix a few hundred more if needed. This demonstration proves that a limited palette of color doesn't mean having a limited amount of choices.

I made these charts using acrylic paints on half sheets of canvas pad. Making them flexible, easy to carry and light weight.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grey Matters

Above is an example of a Grisaille (Gray monotone painting) done directly from life. By mixing Raw Umber with White to create a range of value to render light on the form giving the illusion of three dimensions.

Color is not needed to depict form, space or to tell a story. Just look at the history of black and white film photography. It is said, "Value does all of the work but color gets all of the credit."

If you're having a tough time mixing and matching a color make sure you're in the correct value range first. That said, as long as the value is correct you can "push" color to the point that it is not representative of the actual thing that you're painting but will still read correctly in the context of the painting as a whole opening up a world of possibility for the artist.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Learn and Pass It On

I am an artist and a teacher. One of my favorite things to do as a teacher is to travel to different art centers, art clubs, and associations and give demonstrations. I get to meet so many fascinating people who are just as passionate about art, and how its created.

The subjects may include landscape, still-life or portrait but my primary focus is to share my knowledge in a fun entertaining way that will inspire the attendees to try a new approach to painting or to discover a way of seeing something that they haven't before. Just as important, I want to reassure beginning students that there are stages to learning that we all must work through to become better artists and encourage them to keep at it. 

Documented here is from a recent still life demo. Most venues provide wireless microphones and overhead video projection so everyone can see and hear.

Pictured above is a four step breakdown of my approach for this particular demo. Having only one hour to paint this, I wanted to show a systematic approach. (See my May 9th &16th posts to learn more approaches to painting). First is finding the composition. Second is stating the dark values. Third working middle values. Fourth, adding highlights and relevant detail.

Monday, May 23, 2016

One Step at a Time

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I make it a point to practice drawing from live models once or twice a week. The adage, "if you don't use it you'll lose it" is so true with drawing and painting. Frequency is the key to maintaining skill level and dexterity.

For me, drawing and painting aren't that different in approach. I took progress photos using my phone every 20 minutes during this portrait to document my approach. (See image below).

The first 20 minutes is the most crucial. I look for a comfortable placement of the head on the paper. I'm working a linear approach at this stage. The big shapes are laid out: head shape silhouette, division of hair vs. face, placement of features in correct proportions, etc.

Since I'm working from a living breathing being, I know when the model comes back from a break the pose will be close (with some direction) but will never be the same. Hair will change, fabric folds will always change, the model may make slight adjustments to make themselves more comfortable as he or she settles into the pose. If I don't get this first stage down and locked in during the first sitting, I'll be chasing the drawing for the rest of the session.

Second, 20 minutes is simply separating light vs. shadow shapes. At this stage, I transition from using the line to a tonal approach. No different than painting. It's about laying down big areas of value and getting the value relationships to read correctly. I even start to indicate lighter values with white charcoal. I'm using a terra cotta colored pastel pencil on tan paper by the way.

Third 20, is about refining value shapes, building lights & highlights as well as building texture in the hair.

Final 20 minutes, boy does that last 20 go quickly! Refinement and polishing are the objectives until the model timer rings. Don't forget a signature!

Medium: Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil & General's Charcoal White
Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan
Dimensions: 11x14 inches

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's your plan? Part 2

Picking up from last weeks post - Another popular method among plein air painters as well as studio artists is to develop the entire painting all at once. The artist tries to mix the best average value and color temperature for each shape in the scene then progresses onto giving each shape more recognizable three-dimensional forms. This method allows the artist to monitor the painting as a whole and can make mistakes easier to catch and correct early on.

The grisaille has been an approach that has stood up over the centuries. It allows the artist to fully separate value from color by first completing a painting in monotone. Typically, this tonal underpainting is left to dry fully. Then the addition of color is applied in opaque or transparent layers over the corresponding values already mapped out by the underpainting. This method does add one more step to the process and may not be the optimal choice in fleeting light situations.

Since there isn't a single best or any hard fast rules here, you can combine different approaches if you wish. The important thing is to have a plan before laying paint to canvas. Your strategy choice should reflect the working scenario presented and what makes sense to you at the time.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Eat, Drink, Draw.

Drawing should be part of every artist's routine. The subject matter is less important than the act itself. An honest representational approach will be a better gauge of progress than that of the abstract.

Medium: Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil & General's Charcoal White
Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan
Dimensions: 11x14 inches

Monday, April 25, 2016

Is Red Rock Red?

One of my first attempt studies in painting red rock. This subject was so new to me being an east coast artist. I'm very familiar with dark, slick moss covered river stone and the jagged rocks of the New England coast.

Sedona red rock offered a few challenges. One being, trying to understand the forms and structure of the rocks themselves. Secondly, what color was I actually seeing? Just because it's called "red rock" doesn't mean I can apply a brush full of red straight from the tube and expect it to look correct in the painting.

In this scene, the "red" was more orange in color. A yellow-orange in the light and a darker more burnt sienna color in shadow. Using tiny amounts of blue, blue-violets and white helped desaturate the yellow-orange rock in light. Similar blue-violet mixes (excluding white) were used to make the rock in shadows the correct value and saturation.

Depending on the ratio, mixing the complements blue and orange can result in Burnt Umber or Burnt Sienna-like colors. For this reason, I don't always bother carrying or laying out burnt sienna on my palette. It's just too easy to mix from scratch.

Title: Sedona Courthouse Butte
Painted on: SourceTek oil primed linen
Medium: Oil
Dimensions: 6x8 inches
Status: Available

Monday, April 18, 2016

Variety = Interest

Variety keeps the viewer's interest. In this 3-hour portrait study, I'm playing with that idea. Careful drawing is important to achieve a likeness regardless of subject. Once correct measurements have been noted it is then the relationships of value, color, edges and texture that can make a static object or pose more interesting and a subject in motion exceptional.

Close-up example of hard and soft edges. Values are organized by light, medium and dark shapes. There are temperature shifts of warms and cools within each value family. Thicker applications of light against thinly applied shadows.

Representational becomes more abstract the closer one gets to the painting.

Utilizing both brush and palette knife to break any monotony in the application of paint.

Challenge yourself to find new ways to create more interest in your paintings.

Title: Turquoise Shirt 
Painted on: Student grade canvas board
Medium: Oil
Dimensions: 9x12 inches
Status: Available

Monday, April 11, 2016

Colorful Life - SOLD

The above image is from another recent plein air event that I participated in. This time in Casa Grande, AZ which is about a half hour south of Phoenix. I sat in the open hatchback of my vehicle to paint. My car provided temporary shade but didn't help much when the day's temperature heated up.

My choice in the subject matter may not always be the most obvious. Something like a note of color, a particular type of light, a pattern of shapes or maybe an object with a touch of humor/personality can catch my eye. Here it was a little mailbox painted magenta that made me say to myself, "Oh, I have to paint that!"   

Because the mailbox was such a unique color within the scene, I had to find ways to sprinkle it about to create a better color harmony overall. I added bits of magenta to areas in the roadway, buildings, and palm tree. If I didn't, the mailbox color would be disconnected from the surrounding color and would attract too much attention.

Color contrast is one of the many ways to create a focal point. However, it's the value contrast of the sun glare reflecting off the back of the stop sign framed by the darker tree shapes that sets up the primary focal point. The stop sign is the tool to get you to discover the colorful mailbox.

This painting now hangs happily inside the house of the magenta mailbox.

Title: Colorful Life
Painted on: RayMar Archival Panel
Medium: Artist Grade Acrylic
Dimensions: 12x12 inches

Monday, April 4, 2016

Composing the Urban Landscape

Occasionally, I like to challenge myself by entering plein air competitions. The painting above titled 'Northview' is a result of a local one-day event that was held in Glendale, AZ. Producing a frame ready painting within a restricted time limit is the actual challenge of these events. In this case a 16x20 inch in about a 3 hour period.

Naturally, the desert has been my main source of inspiration since relocating to the southwest. An urban setting like this was a nice change of pace and reminded me of subject matter that I would frequently paint out on the east coast.

What attracted me to this particular scene is the strong verticals of the lamppost, telephone poles and street sign. Making this an ideal reverse "L" compositional design. Example below:

The elbow of the reverse "L" creates a natural sweet spot to place the focal point. The dark patch of grass to the left of the white structure attracts more attention to the focal area by contrasting values; light against dark. The foreground shadow shapes and property walls create radiating lines pointing directly to the focal point. Example below:

Title: Northview
Painted on: Fredrix Archival Canvas Panel.
Medium: Artist quality oil.
Dimensions: 16x20 inches.
Status: Available.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Landscape painters can move mountains, demolish buildings, shrink trees, reroute rivers and no-one would be the wiser. However, make a nose too long or not leave enough space between a person's eyes, and suddenly everyone's a critic. Even though my focus is mainly on landscape painting, I make it a point to incorporate working from live models a few times a week to keep my drawing skills up to par.

The drawing above is one such effort. Models come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders. Include as much variety in your practice as you can.

Medium: Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil & General's Charcoal White
Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan
Dimensions: 11x14 inches.

Monday, March 21, 2016

How-To Get Good Fast

Beginning students often ask, "What is the one thing that I can do that will help me become a better painter?" At the risk of sounding like a wisecrack answer, I reply, "Paint!" Most beginning students rely on one class a week to advance their drawing or painting skills. That's simply not enough practice time.

Painting frequently is so important for artistic development. Someone coined it "brush mileage" but the idea is that by regularly painting (if not daily) will put your skills on the fast track. Regardless of your skill level, do the very best you can do every time you paint. What you choose as a subject isn't as important as putting the time to practice.

Above is a small sampling of my class demonstrations performed over the past few weeks. I give a 20-30 minute demo at the beginning of every class. These demos consist of a general topic for the day to get students in the mindset of painting. If requested, I may do smaller demos specific to what each student is working on during that class. It's not uncommon for me to paint 6-10 demos per week. You can see how mileage can add up quickly. These "speed painting" exercises are what I suggest and encourage my students to do.

Of course, not everyone's schedule will allow that kind of volume. However, dedicating any additional practice time outside of class will only benefit you.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Desert Trails

Here's another 6x6 inch painting I recently delivered to the West Valley Arts HQ Gallery. Desert Trails started out as a color study meant for a larger painting. The study started to look great on its own so I brought it to a finish. The larger 12x12 inch version is already posted on my website under the "Studio Paintings" collection. I am considering doing one more version at 24x24 inches or larger.
I personally love the gradation of color temperature in this painting. Blue/Greens in the foreground, Red/Violets in the mid-ground and finally, Blue/Violets in the background mountains.
For purchase information please contact: West Valley Arts HQ Gallery 
16126 N. Civic Center Plaza
Surprise, AZ
Phone: 623-584-2626