Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

This year I have three holiday trees. The silver one I knew as a kid. The box still has the shipping label addressed to Wootens, the hardware store that was next door to my grade school, it has been out of business since the mid sixties. A tall skinny green tree and a small pink one. My painting with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgences and a sculpted female figure can be seen between the trees. The pink tree is adorned with a string of "snow man head lights" I just like saying that: snow man head lights.

There is close to fifty strands of glass bead garland on the silver tree.

The rotating spotlight for the silver tree changes the color in the back if the tree.
Multi colored lights are on the green tree.

Monday, December 14, 2009

it's that time of year, again

Every year the desire to paint something Christmassy will over take me. Its all the sparkly-shiny 'Oh So Specialness' of the season. I go to great lengths trying to capture a small part of what I enjoy about this time of year. This means dragging out the collection of seasonal bling I've been collecting. This year I have 3 trees. The main tree is one from my childhood, it was my next door neighbor's tree. I was always fascinated by Mrs Grace's tree, bazaarly silver in color compared to the traditionally green tree in my home. I also remember there being orange balls and striped balls on this tree. So there is always orange and striped balls on mine. We never had orange on our tree.

This year my silver tree has an excessive amount of glass beaded garland, every strand in my collection is on this tree. There are somewhere over 50 strands of beads on here. This collection go back to my childhood memories. I recall the beads we had when I was a child, it had double beads of mixed color, the beads shaped as the number 8 strung end to end. This year I found two strands of that garland, one in it's original box. That garland is shown in this painting along with a variety of other styles, including many strands of clear glass beads. This is an 10"x8" painting, oil on board.

Last year my silver tree was set up in a mid century house in Palm Springs, in this 8"x8" panel I try to capture the balls hanging among the tinsel branches. Reflective bits of light in a chaotic pattern make up the branches. The rotating colors of the spotlight only add to the challenge of capturing the look of the tree.

This 8"x8" painting of a small blue tree on a chartreuse enameled dish with green glass beaded garland and a tiny snow globe. Here I was enjoying the play of color. The tree was blue after all.

This one is my all time favorite of my Christmas paintings. It is the upper section of the 12' tall tree, the last I had in my home in Laguna Beach. The view of the coastline behind the tree brings me back to some of my best holiday seasons. This painting is 30"x24", oil on canvas.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

still life with blues and greens

As typical I start a painting by toning the canvas with a wash of cadmium red light. Followed direct sketching of the subject in the cad red light then adding ultramarine blue as I start to block in the darker areas.

As I continue on the painting I start to define the shapes by indicating the local color. By local color I am referring to the actual color of the subject. I'm not trying for the final color but I want to establish the pattern of the shapes in the composition. I will be working back into each area to establish how each color relates to the one next to it. I typically try to get the darks in place first. Painting a dark color over an area that contains white in it makes getting the darks dark enough.

I continue adding more detail as I work on the painting.

Please excuse the variations of color with these images. The lighting in the room when the painting was photographed was not consistent. The incandescent lights give the images a warmer, yellower cast.

Below is the final image of the painting. Again please note the color shift, this was photographed under different lighting conditions. I took this image outdoors with indirect natural light.

24" x 20" oil on canvas
This painting is larger then most of my recent paintings, so there is much more detail on this painting then is typical for the smaller paintings. I worked on this painting over a two week period, the smaller paintings are complete in a session or two.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

triptych with Stewart Little

The other day I actually sat down in a comfy chair in the middle of the day. Not something I tend to do. From this vantage point I noticed a vignette through the pains of the french doors. I decided it would be something I would enjoy painting. The mullions dividing the composition in thirds made me think that it should be a triptych. 

The above image shows a little of what I saw from that seat. It was inconvenient to paint from the "comfy chair" but real convenient to study the painting's progress. Not having a clear line of sight with my subject I also used a photograph for reference. This painting was done within a weeks time, not painting every day but having the opportunity to study it daily.

When I start a painting I typically tone the canvas or panels in a wash of Cadmium Red Light, then block in the darker areas with the Cad Red lt. and Ultramarine Blue.

I block in areas, placing color references to fine tune the relationship of the shapes. Typically I start with the darks, keeping white off my painting till I'm secure with the placement of the whole composition. In this case I did lighten the background early. I wanted to establish a strong contrast with the objects in front of the curtain.

These photos taken indoors while the painting is in process may not be the best for color reference but they help illustrate the progression of the painting.

The final painting(s) below shows a truer color relationship. I have noticed that digital cameras tend to enhance the colors not always good for showing accurate color harmonies. They may make the snapshots of a birthday party more lively. I tend to use a lot of highly saturated colors in my paintings. My colors are layered on the canvas, often the camera may only capture one of the layers - not always one I might expect. Sometimes I don't realize how strong a color on a painting is till I see a photo of it.

three panels 20" x 10" oil on board

The panel on the left has a couple of twisted lines. they might not be easily recognizable, it is a part of a lamp (twisted metal spiral and the cord) one of a pair, French in origin. The other lamp I think of as my "I Dream of Jeannie" lamp, this is the first time it showed up in a painting.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

paint day

Yesterday, was paint day. A group of artist/friends get together and to work in someone's home or studio. It was almost canceled this month due to an untimely medical emergency by one member, you guessed it, the hosting artists spent their day in the hospital rather then in the studio. We were able to move the event to another studio with only a few hours notice. I always paint well with this crowd. Yesterday was no exception. I painted an arrangement of flowers from my garden. I selected these flowers for there color harmonies; thinking about how they will work in the painting–not just choosing everything in bloom in a perfusion of color that I would typically bring to paint. 

14" x 11" oil on canvas

Monday, April 20, 2009

recent work

Recent paintings, a variance from the work I have recently been doing. These have been in process for the past month. It seems like a long time for me to be working on something. Top painting, begun about the time I started blogging. I set it aside to work on the florals I thought would be the focus of my last show. Painted on a 16" x 20" canvas, I can't help to think this painting could work on a much larger format. Wanting to do something different than a typical landscape this was a opportunity to incorporate these figures; wooden dolls? mannequins? maybe they were made to be dressed up as saints. The big one seems to have her holy on.

Last fall just after the elections, I was in Sacramento – this fine state's capital, during the rally protesting the passing of Prop 8.  The passing of that proposition was extremely hurtful for me, much more than I ever expected – I felt betrayed and condemned by the outcome. 
It was revitalizing to be there with other like minded victims of the hate.
I recall during the protest thinking the only thing missing were the words "SURRENDER DORTHY" in the sky above us. I have been wanting to commemorate the event. The evil represented by the skywriting; A scary image branded upon my mind in childhood, bringing up feelings of an insurmountable enemy, to powerful to fight, to malevolent not to be contested. The marchers with there back to the capital building were continuing the march beyond the officially sanctioned marching area. They took the march to the street, the goal to cross over some bridge, to be seen. The marchers stayed on the sidewalks, off of the roadways. The police closed the road to traffic limiting the access of visibility. 

The local Pride center in Modesto had a contest for an image for the upcoming Pride Event. The theme "right to love", seemed to fit with what I wanted to express. This painting is 18" x 24", it could have been expressed on a larger canvas, but when I had the time to start it this was the size canvas that was handy. The words on the bottom were added on the computer.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kaisor Hospital

Last year I sold some paintings to Kaisor for there new hospital in Modesto. The three paintings they bought are shown above. These are not oil paintings, they are a mixed medium, water based paint. They would not purchase paintings on canvas, so I reverted to an earlier painting style. These are painted on board, like the little ones I do but much bigger. I do like painting in this medium, It takes a little more space and planing so I tend to stick with the oils.

The top painting "Sun Lit", 24" x 24" Inspired by the sun light coming through the trees in Yosemite. I liked the cool blues and grays contrasting with the greenish yellow. Simple shapes making up trees and mountain, for me it was all about the color. Next painting "Out To Pasture" again 24" x 24" a scene in Nights Ferry, though the field held no car, there was some abandoned construction equipment there in its place. An vintage roadster seamed to hold a more romantic image. The bottom painting a diptych two 24" x 48" panels, of a local ranch only a mile or so from where the new hospital stands. Alas, The ranch seems to be gone, they are widening the road and only one building is left standing. I heard that the ranch is hanging in the waiting room of the emergency room, With any luck I will never see it hanging there.

sorry it has been a while since I posted last
life gets in the way at times

Monday, March 30, 2009


This painting of building at the water's edge along the coast of Portafino, Italy. The colorful buildings of this location are quit inspirational, I spent a long time painting this. It was as if I did not want to leave this place. I feel this painting lacks some spontaneity, it is pretty enough but maybe a little overworked.
48" x 48" oil on canvas

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MJC show

Here I am posting images of a show I had at Modesto Junior College a few years back. I have been thinking of this show as I worked on hanging my current show. This weekends show seemed much more difficult to hang. MJC's gallery a large white room with high ceilings allowed a lot of leeway. I could layout the room on graph paper and bring only paintings that I knew would fit. The smaller space of this current show took a little more finesse to get the flow right.

The above image shows six of my favorite paintings. These two foot square paintings, each a flower of a different color. I captured the 6 colors of the color wheel, 3 primary and 3 secondary colors. I call this series "Fleur Spectrum". Many years ago when I lived in Southern California I was a partner in a company that did decorative painting and faux finishes call Faux Spectrum. The library table is a byproduct of that enterprise. The sculpture is carved alabaster, it has four different faces on it's surface. The wall on the right had a large rectangle painted a dusty gray violet with close to a hundred small figure paintings attached to it. Hanging those small panels was truly a act of trust. I ended up filling every inch of the area with only four paintings left over.

This wall of 12 inch square paintings is one of the first times I was able to display these painting. I started painting one foot squares a while earlier knowing how I wanted to see them displayed. Four years later I'm still filling walls with grids of square paintings. This weeks show the paintings are 8" squares, 44 of them. The figure is a clay piece I did while I lived in San Francisco. The four foot square painting farther down the wall is a sight I actually witnessed. I was driving from San Francisco to Stanford to visit the museum there. I saw a circular shape in the field then noticed figures within the ring. I could not make out the origins of the people, but under the circumstances I could only assume they were aliens.

Monday, March 23, 2009


This painting of a blooming tulip magnolia tree is one that did not make it into my current show. I had planed to make it part of a set, I still may. While hanging my show I realised there was not room to display the pair, so I used that excuse not to execute the second painting. I like this painting by it's self and with out the pressure of a deadline it may be a while. There are a few other images I want to work on that the show forced me to set aside.

I planted a tulip magnolia in my yard two years ago. I wanted a shade tree to shelter my house from the summer's afternoon sun. The tree bloomed for the first time this year. I got 4 flowers. I want to bring them to my easel and try to capture the essences of there chaotic petals. My tree grew only 6 inches in 2 years. I fear there will be a long wait before I can remove a branch from it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Show preview

Had a lot of trouble posting images this week. I've been to consumed with my upcoming show to spend time trying to overcome the problem.

This image is is a preview of what I have hanging in the space. I had to rethink my idea of focusing on floral images. The space required me to think about the scale of the paintings. The scale of the smaller room did not allow viewing space to appraise a larger image directly. The smaller paintings, 44 on the one wall, are more likely to draw someone into the room. I am showing some quirky still lives as well as the more organically inspired paintings. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

more hydrangea

Here are more hydrangea paintings. 
14" x 7" oil on board
36" x 36" oil on canvas

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Hydrangea comes in many forms, and painting it is often a challenge. The shape of the bloom, typically a mass of tightly grouped florets. I struggle with these, I want to show each petal and yet I know that such detail can take away from the overall impression. 
9" x 6" oil on board
8"x 8" oil on board
20" x 24 oil on canvas

Friday, March 13, 2009


A profusion of cosmos, like flowers dancing in a field. 
36" x 36" oil on canvas

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pride of Medeira

Yesterday's post with the blue of the rosemary reminded me of these paintings  of Pride of Merdeira. When I lived in Pennsylvania we did not have blue flowers. Here in California, there are often blue plant life that takes me by surprise. It was is like being in Oz, seeing something so unusual as a blue tree. I still remember screaming to stop the car, I had to get out and touch it. It was a full grown blue tree of wild lilac, Ceanothus. These paintings, of a the large blue spikes growing along route 1 somewhere between San Francisco and the Russian River. These paintings are from the same location, one facing north one south. These large paintings were painted over ten years ago while I lived in San Francisco.
both: 60" x 48" oil on canvas

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


This is the pair of paintings I have been working on this week. They are similar to the work I posted march 4th; Red Quince. Yes, my fingers are stained with the wet paint, blue not red, but that isn't the reverent parallels. Again, I am working with the idea of a denser image on the bottom with the top painting concerned more with the space around the subject. I moved away from positing the top's subject against a blue sky. This time the top image more of a landscape above a more abstracted image. Again this is the first time I have the paintings positioned as I would have them hang. To bad I need to scroll this page to view them. Maybe after this is posted I will see them together. 
24" x 24" over 18" x 24" oil on canvas

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Paint Day

Today was Paint Day, I almost missed it. I needed a reminder call. I painted among the almond blossoms today. The weather was perfect to be outdoors painting. I liked the rows of grass between the trees, green stripes where the fallen petals hide and the strips of exposed dirt freckled with the snow of fallen petals. The orderly ground stripes and the systematic rows of tree trunks against the chaos of the blooming branches make painting in an orchard a fun challenge

Saturday, March 7, 2009

ground cover

It took me about an hour to up load these images. I wish I knew why sometimes it works and other times it won't.

These two paintings of the ground cover growing in Antibes, France. I believe the purple flowers are a geranium. It has been a while since I was in the south of France. These paintings are from a few years back, almost a decade maybe. I came across a photo where they were hanging in the background and it made me want to share them here. As I get ready to start a new painting, rosemary with it's blue blooms, I can see the similarities to what i have done with these. 
both:   24" x 24" oil on canvas

Friday, March 6, 2009


This painting was done as a commission. Their home already had some of my floral paintings. There was an antique frame 300o miles away. They sent me fabric samples–the colors of the room it would hang with. and this is what came of it, salmon pinks and oranges, terracotta and muted spring greens. I found ranunculus in the appropriate colors and  joined them with some snapdragons. This painting with flowers very direct and prominent was to hanging a teenagers girls bedroom. I wanted the proportions of the flowers to be bold and direct maintaining a contemporary feel to balance the ornate frame.
14" x 24" oil on canvas

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Show information

Here is the invitation for the show. I saw the space last week and it is a great space for a show.

red quince

Here is a preview of my quince paintings. Fresh off the easel, my fingers stained from moving them to take the photos. This posting is the first time I've been able to see them in the positioning I had in mine. Like the Cosmos painting having the denser image over the airier. 

I plan to show this painting in a show later this month.  

24" x 24"  &  18" x 24"  oil on canvas