Sunday, December 27, 2009


I know. I know. Any thing worth doing... but why does it have to be so difficult.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jim's advice to my last post...

"...just go to the studio and paint."

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overcoming fear

It sounds like I'm going to give some advice on how to overcome fear. Well, there's no advice coming form this corner other than "face it head on"—to borrow the words of a diva.

Monday, December 14, 2009

small oil studies

I continue to paint smaller oils, 9x12 and smaller. I'd like to paint larger but I'm not ready to paint bigger... maybe it's fear of the unknown. For now, I'll keep doing these little pieces.

Many of these small oils are sketches for larger pastels--how's that for an ironic twist?

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apple pie

While shopping at Eastern Market, we bought some apples to bake pie. We chose a mix of sweet and tart varieties. However, before we could enjoy a pie I felt compelled to paint the apples. I was paticularly drawn to the color variations in the red apple and the leaves on the greeen apple.

This was painted in oil on stretched canvas. It was fun to paint the shadows and reflections on the apples. Looking at this now, I don't remember if the red apple was lopsided or not but I think I'll repaint left side to give it a more pleasing shape.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

and the pastel

This is the pastel. It is 36x18 on prepared panel. I was taken with the landscape beyond the foreground trees even though the trees are my focus.

continued exercises with pastel and oil

This small oil is 8x4 and was a quick study. I painted it rather quickly. Hmmmm. I am becoming more familiar with the oils.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I just finished listening to Malcolm Gladwell's OUTLIERS on audiobook. It was so good--as are all his books--that I started from the beginning to listen again.

Now to work on those 10,000 hours. Or, start again.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

an exercise in pastel and oil

Since I started painting in oils--yet again. I decided to work on the same composition in both pastel and oil. This has been my project for the last couple weeks. I continue to struggle with brushes but i love mixing. I think I'll do the exercise again.


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Friday, October 02, 2009

Richard McKinley Demo

On Sunday, prior to the opening of the Maryland Pastel Society's biennial exhibition, Shades of Pastel, I along with many other MPS members will have the opportunity to see Richard McKinley do a deomonstration. Richard is an incredible artists and generous teacher. Check out this short video of one of his demos.

Friday, September 11, 2009

oil color charts are complete

Wow! When I started making these 12 color charts I thought it would take me a couple days. Instead, it took me a couple of weeks with each chart taking about two hours.

You may ask, "Was it worth it?" and I'd reply, "Yes, it was." I learned so much about this palette. Not only did I learn how the colors interact when mixed and how to consistently tint the colors. In addition, I learned that each color is different in its opacity where some colors are more transparent than others.

The true test of my efforts will come when I set out to put the pigments to use and how easily I'll be able to anticipate the mixture.

Friday, August 21, 2009

color chart 5 - bluff

This is a custom color by Varsari and part of the Scott Christensen palette. It is called Bluff. Very nice mixtures.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

color chart 2 - cadmium pale lemon

This chart shows Cad Pale Lemon mixed with the other colors of the palette then tinted down four steps.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

color chart 1 - full palette

This is a chart showing each color of the palette as it comes from the tube followed by four tints.

Friday, August 14, 2009

a new venture

A week or so ago, I learned that one of my paintings was juried into the American Impressionists Society annual exhibition that will take place in Denver, Colorado–my former home. It will be strange to go back after all these years and even more strange to be exhibiting there. All the same, I'm very excited for this opportunity and very much looking forward to spending a week in Colorado.

In conjunction with the exhibition, AIS offers a couple workshops. I've decided to take the Scott Christensen plein air workshop. I wasn't cheap and what was more shocking was the cost of the supply list. The workshop is an OIL painting workshop and I am not an oil painter other than a few times a year when it's too cold or wet to paint outdoors with pastels. Why am I taking an oil painting workshop? Lots of reasons. First, Scott Christensen is an amazing landscape artist and whether or not I continue in oil I'm sure I'll learn many fundamentals of painting that are relevant for any medium. Second, I like a challenge. Scott's palette is different from anything that I've used before with the primaries, white, and eight grays (custom mixed for him by Vasari). It is a beautiful palette and from what I understand an extraordinary paint.

The paint arrived yesterday and I excitedly opened the large shipping box. Inside I find three smaller boxes. Two simple corrugated boxes containing the primaries and white and a larger box with beautiful gold embossed VASARI label. I open it and find eight tubes where the labels are marked with actual paint samples... works of art. Now, those tubes of paint displayed on my workbench and I wonder, "Where do I begin?" Logical as I am I tell myself, "At the beginning, goofy." And, from the bookshelf I retrieve Richard Schmid's Alla Prima. I thumb through the pages until I find what I'm looking for—Color Charts. That's where I'll begin.

With the paints displayed, I begin applying gesso (two coats each side) to 1/4-inch acid-free foam board. When it was dry, I began applying black artists tape (trimmed to 1/4-inch strips, approx.) to create 1-inch squares. I have 11 tubes of paint and I need 12 boards. I'll keep you posted as this project progresses.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

a work in progress continues

I started laying in color with the idea that the final piece will focus on the house and the azaleas. I'm painting on a Wallis Belgian Mist and I used a size that is larger than what I expect the final piece to be. My client asked that the house be bright. The architecture and landscape don't show much of the home except for the roof which isn't very interesting. When I first painted the roof it seemed dominant so I toned it down and accentuated to light on the bricks. The light is not exactly realistic but I hope it's believable and meets the client's request.

This is one of the images that I sent to the client for review. I think the painting is about 90% complete. I'll put it on the rail for a while and wait for feedback from my client. Before I sign it, I may—or may not—make some adjustments and call it resolved.

Monday, July 27, 2009

a work in progress

I'm working on a commissioned house portrait and thought it would be fun to post images as I work through the piece.

This is one of the photos that I was give as reference. There are several photos taken in various seasons and times of day. I like this one because I can see much of the structure and was able to work our the proportions of the house using this and the other photos.

The thumbnail with the proportions from which I made my larger drawing. When breaking the building down to a grid I figured the house is two squares high by 13 squares wide. When dividing each square into thirds, I learn that size and placement of windows/doors fall in those thirds.

This is the drawing done from the thumbnail. From here I'll begin applying pastel. This gives me an accurate rendering of the structure before I begin painting. This seems a little tight but I'm sure it will loosen up as begin the painting.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

thanks to the maryland pastel society

Today, I was honored and humbled to critiqued for the Maryland Pastel Society. Honored to have been asked to serve in such a way and humbled to provide constructive criticism for such fine work. Everything I saw was deserving of praise. Moreover, there were works--in my opinion--that needed little more than a frame. Bravo, MPS!

Monday, July 13, 2009

my new studio

A view of my new studio.

Here's my green chair and my office. Notice the giant paintbrush in the corner.

The Door of Fame and my office. Sorry about the garbage on the floor. I haven't taken it out yet.

A wall of paintings. I think you need one on your wall. Don't you?

My easel with the beginnings of a new piece.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

studio lighting

By July 1 I'll be moving into a new studio space within the Columbia Pike Artist Studios in Arlington. I've been there one year--time flies--and quickly outgrew my 170 square foot studio. My space is about double in size. Unfortunately, my new space is an interior space without windows or natural light. To light the space I'll replace the current fluorescent and incandescent bulbs with full-spectrum tubes and CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs).

At this point, I think I know more about lighting than I ever thought I would or cared to know. However, it is all very interesting. The way I understand it is: the color temperature of light is measured in kelvins (K). The thing to remember is a lower number equals warmer (yellow) light and a higher number equals cooler (blue) light. Sunlight at noon on a clear day is approximately 6500K and a standard incandescent bulbs measures around 3000K. Full spectrum lighting measures at 5000K and higher. So if that isn't enough to think about, we need to talk about the color rendering index (CRI), which a rating that measures the rendering ability of light on a scale of 1 to 100. Sunlight at noon measures 100.

The lighting I plan to use in my studio measure in at 5900K and 94 CRI. These are the closest to natural light that I can find. They're not cheap to purchase but the savings for switching to CFLs should be reflected on my electric bills. According to an online CFL savings calculator my electricity costs will be reduced by more than $20 per month saving more more than $2,000 over the life of the bulbs. Check it out,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

day two from the Frederick Festival of the Arts

This is the second day of the FFoA. It's a wonderful venue and the crowds are good yesterday. I had a lot of positive feedback that referenced, "old world paintings," Cezanne and Monet. Flattering but how do you compare your own work to the masters.

Here's looking forward to a great day with lots of collectors.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

lots going on

The past weeks have been quite busy with preparations for shows, festivals and the move of my studio. Luckily, the move is just down the hall. As of July 1, I'll be in a larger studio that will allow me to do so much more in my studio. For those of you who have seen my studio know that it's quite cozy and when preparing for a show or festival I spread out into the hallway. That should be a thing of the past.

This painting is a new piece that I did for a show titled Washington, DC en Plein Air. It opens next week at American Painting in the District. The painting is of the Tidal Basin and bridge (Ohio Ave, I think) while the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. While the blossoms are prominent in the piece, they are not the focal point. I wanted to include them but my goal was to make them secondary to the bridge... more specifically the light on the bridge.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Wow. With jim's help, the framing for my Cumberland show is complete. I planned to have at least 30 pieces foe the show since i'm filling several rooms and the final count is 44. I can't believe it. And I wonder why I'm tired.

Monday, April 27, 2009

perfect weather

I love days like today. In my opinion, the weather today is perfect. I enjoy four a week with a little fog and rain mixed in.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

explosions of color

For our monthly paint out, the Washington Society of Landscape Painters painted at the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC. This was my first visit to the Arboretum and I don't know what took me so long getting there. This is my fourth spring living in the DC area and I never discovered the place. Everywhere you turn there is a painting begging to be painted and it’s FREE.

I'm not a floral painter but as a landscape painter flowers are often element in my compositions; yet, today a flowering azalea bush became my muse. On a search for a suitable subject, I was hiking along the path in the azalea garden when I rounded the path and came upon an azalea bush that was glowing fuchsia in morning light—it stopped me in my tracks. The path before me was dappled sun puddles and the shadows were long. Going any further was pointless.

Knowing that the morning light changes quickly, I set up my kit choosing a smaller board (9x12). I began blocking in the piece and bypassed my usual underpainting because I didn't what to loose the light while the underpainting dried. The light was changing rapidly which spurred me on to paint faster.

Aside from the rapidly changing light, I was faced with the problem of not having the right value of pink for the highlights in the azalea bush. Instead, I chose a warm orange color in a similar value. Overall, I think it worked. How abut you?

If you've never been to see the azaleas in bloom, you must go and it's not too late to see them this spring.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

the rebirth of spirng

Blooming flowers, longer days, cherry blossoms, sunshine, dogwood, sun showers, big billowy clouds against blue skies, drinking wine on the balcony with friends, and painting, what’s not to love about spring.

Admittedly, winters in the DC area are nothing compared to those of some of the other places I’ve lived, Chicago, Denver, and Milwaukee, but there’s the same sense of lethargic hibernation that occurs for me regardless of my domicile. Mostly, I don’t like to be cold.

So far this spring temperatures have been cooler and it seems to me that we’ve had a lot of rain. That hasn’t stopped the seasonal rebirth from occurring. The colors are spectacular as the budding trees glow their golden green in the sun and the recently barren earth bursts with a dappled array of color.

As I’m painting this spring, I reminded that my plein air kit needs an adjustment from a winter to a spring palette; swapping out the grayed hues for brighter greens and a larger variety of pinks, purples, and blues. It’s just another reminder of rebirth and growth. A time to venture into new landscapes and embrace the experiences that will shape who we are as people and artists tomorrow.

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." —Pablo Picasso

Monday, April 20, 2009

fine art reproductions

In recent weeks, I was approached by a potential corporate client that is interested in my work. Unfortunately, they do not have a budget to purchase original works for their offices and have asked if I have or would consider having reproductions done of my work. For some, this may seem like a no brainer; and for others, Giclée prints are out of the question.

As an artist and former gallery owner, I’ve maintained a mantra, “always buy original art.” Art is my livelihood and I worry that doing reproductions of my work may diminish my reputation and the value of my originals. However, as a small business owner—yes, artists are small business owners—trying to make ends meet in this economic climate, I understand the importance in meeting the wants and needs of my existing clientele as well as the need to branch out to other markets. Moreover, I understand the need to produce works in varying sizes so that I am hitting a variety of price points.

In doing reproductions, I will be reaching out to different markets. There is a market for fine art reproductions. In fact, I know a couple who are financially able to purchase original art but claim that by collecting reproductions their collection is extensive and diverse allowing them to rotate pieces and not feel too bad about getting rid of something if it no longer holds their interest. Included in this group of collectors are those art lovers with limited discretionary income. Buying fine art reproductions allows them to live with works with which they relate that fits within their budget.

So, now that I’ve justified why I should have some reproductions done, can I overcome my negativity and reach out to a broader market? I think so.

There is an interesting article by artist Mamata B. Herland titled, The Impact of Giclée: A shift towards digital print in future art on Lux Art & Design's website.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

painting the Tidal Basin

This photo shows my value-based
under painting for "Tidal Basin"
a 16x22 pastel painting on
Wallis sanded paper.

And, the same piece
after adding some color.
This painting will rest
on a spare easel, which
allows me to study the
painting. Doing this gives
me the opportunity to
step away from the piece
and study it. It may set
there for a couple hours
or days. This gives me
space—physically and
mentally—allowing me
to critique the piece before
going back into it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This is a little (9x12) painting that I recently did where I was focusing on the light and shadow. No matter how much I paint or how often I study, I feel as if I will never “get it.” I suppose that is the nature growth. I will never stop learning.

The further I go, the sorrier I am about how little I know: it is this that bothers me the most. —Claude Monet

Thursday, April 09, 2009


For years I have done my own taxes to save money. This year is no different... or so I thought. I've spent the past week trying to get everyhing together to pay my taxes and I am amazed at the disorganization, my disorganization. What makes it worse is that I know better. As the business manager foe a design firm, I'm very organized and keep excellent records. What I now realize is that in my own business--yes, being a working artist is a business--I am as disorganized as I am organized at work. My advice? Don't wait until April 2010 to start working on your books. Get things set up now and keep them updated as you go.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I was in awe at the beauty of this morning's sunrise. It stopped me In my tracks.

"The sky is the soul of all scenery. It makes the earth lovely at sunrise and splended at sunset. In the one it breathes over the earth a crystal-like ether, in the other a liquid gold." --Thomas Cole

Monday, April 06, 2009


Although the exhibition, 383: Viewing the Potomac, is over I'll continue to work on the theme as I paint the diverse Potomac River. Today, I took the show down, hauled the remaining pieces to the studio for storage until my May exhibition in Cumberland, Maryland and sighed—partly out of relief and partly in sadness. For nearly two years the show has been a part of my life. I thought about it constantly as I developed the theme, painted the pieces, and planned the exhibition. As the date drew nearer, it became more of a presence in my life. I'm relieved that it is no longer in my daily thoughts and sad that it's over. More important, I'm thankful for the support and opportunity. This adventure prepares me for all that I will do tomorrow and beyond as I pursue my dreams.

"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams." —Oprah Winfrey

Friday, April 03, 2009

painting daily

I read an article about an artists' income survey. The researchers surveyed Canadian artists on income, education, and employment. Two things that really struck me were how little artists earn from their art, Canadian $20K, and how many hours they spend making art, 26 hours per week.

My first thought on both counts is, that's not enough. It's a shame that artists (all diciplines) must work second jobs to pay the rent. Second, that artists work at their craft less than three hours a day. That's practice time!

When in full swing, I'm clocking 40 hours a week painting. Granted, I don't have much of a life outside of the studio and my FT job, but I feel it is necessary for me to paint everyday to meet my goals. As I've said many times, all I want to do is paint.

So, let's get busy. Let's turn off these computers and paint.

Friday, March 27, 2009

working through the fear

Recently, I was having a conversation with a talented artist friend who was telling me how a painting would often remain untouched in the studio because he's fearful that he'll ruin it. Though not surprised, it was a realization that other artists, myself included, deal with such fears. I'm not trained in psychology or counseling and can therefore comment only on the fears and barriers that prevent me from working on my art. I can talk about my experience with fear and its similarity to my friend’s.

So, what is fear? Is it a lack of self-confidence? From where does it come? Why is that I question my abilities and myself? Of what am I afraid: I'm not good enough; of success; of failure; that someone won't like my work; of rejection? Why do I allow it to prevent me from taking those steps forward to achieve my goals and dreams? Like you, the answers to these questions must come from within.

Being an artist is not easy. We put our heart and soul out there for others to judge. Heck, as artists there's very little we do that doesn't come with a jury or someone deciding if our work is good enough or the right fit. The only way I've found to deal with this irrational—but very real—emotion is to keep moving forward. To be true to my art and myself. To focus on the work and not on the "projected" opinions of others. In other words... just keep painting.

Easier said than done, right? When the grip of fear begins to overtake us maybe, we should ask ourselves; what's worse, working through the fear at the risk of destroying something in which we have invested so much energy; or, give in to the fear and never give our work and ourselves the opportunity to flourish. After all, isn't it through trial and error that we learn and grow?

The great soprano, Beverly Sills said, "I'm not happy, I'm Cheerful. There's a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them." I think being fearless and fearful are very similar to Beverly's happiness and cheerfulness... I have fears but I'm learning how to deal with them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pastels on prepared panel

"What are you painting on?" is one of the questions that I'm most often asked. While I paint on many surfaces including, Wallis sanded papers, Sennelier La Carte pastel card, and Richeson premium surfaces to name a few, I prefer the surfaces that I make myself with plenty of irregular texture.

To begin, I use Amersand's Gessobord™. I use the surface rather than a hardboard that can be purchased at your hardware store because Gessobord is sealed and the surface is pH neutral and acid free. I trust the manufacturer has done it's reseach to assure it's product is everything they claim. Next, I apply three more coats of Gesso brushing it on with short cross-hatch stroke. I do not sand between coats. When the gesso is dry I apply several (3 or 4) coats of Golden Acrylic Grounds for Pastels to which I've added additional grit. The grit I use varies depending on how coarse I want my surface. Some of the substances I use are marble dust, pumice, and grog.

Since this takes some time to do, I usually prepare several panels at one time. I've also used this technique on 300# watercolor paper with good results. The surface accepts many layers of color and allows me to achieve a painterly quality.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Paint" Alexandria Plein Air Festival

With several other artists, I've been invited demonstrate and teach as part of "Paint" Alexandria Plein Air Festival. I'll be on location Saturday, May 16 (time to be announced) where I'll do a pastel plein air demonstration. Registered participants are invited watch or paint along--so bring your kit and let's have some fun.

The Art League's annual "Paint" Alexandria, a two-day, all media, plein air event. Participants will be guided in the fine art of sketching, painting, and photography.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Workshops and Classes

Over the past several months, I've been asked if I'll be leading any workshops or teaching classes. Teaching has always something I've considered doing but I have never felt as if I were ready... until now. Currently, I'm exploring the opportunities that are available and gathering information. I hope to have something put together by Fall 2009. If you're interested in classes or workshops, please visit my Web site,, and sign up for my mailing list and I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

a great demo

Many thanks to everyone who attended my demo at the Torpedo Factory this afternoon. It was great fun because of you. I loved your enthusiasm, questions, feedback, and smiling faces. I'm looking forward to next time. Until then, I'd love to receive feedback on the demo: What did you learn? How can I improve the presentation? What would you like to see next time? Etc.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or requests.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let's give this another try

I'm going to give this another try. Life's been very busy with painting, shows, travel, work and whatever else. I moved into a new studio last June and love it. I've never worked so much on art making. Currently, I'm working on work to exhibit in two solo shows for 2009. Check out my exhibitions page for more info.