Friday, March 26, 2010

Sunny window

When photographing my models, I often pose them by a sunny window.  Not only does it add beautiful light, but also interesting designs and shapes. Composition is so important.  I always suggest to my students that it is a good idea to do a thumbnail sketch of your composition before you even pick up a brush. That way you address problems ahead of time and make the painting process much more enjoyabl 


This is a painting of my four year old grandson Jesse.  It was painted from the same modeling session as the Penrod photos of his big brother, Gabriel.  Jesse is wearing the same hat and a vintage sailor suit. Although this piece is quite small, only 6 x 8, I feel it has a strong and interesting composition.The hat and striped collar create a nice play of shapes and brushstrokes.  I am often asked how I get my little guys to model for me!  One word......MONEY!  And Jesse is quite the negotiator!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shoppe Windows

 I love this little painting!!! Several artists gathered in the small village of Zionsville, IN to take part in their Annual Brick Street Paintout.  Although I consider myself more of a "studio" painter, I do enjoy working "plein aire".  And I especially like it when there is a little "competition" involved.  My biggest challenge when painting outdoors is "what to paint?".  There is so much around you,  it is sometimes difficult to "edit" to find that perfect composition.  But, on this day, I found this charming little shoppe on Main Street.  I was immediately drawn to the chairs and dresses displayed in the large windows, and the red bicycle in front.  I really had fun with this painting and was pleased with my results.  And, by the way, I came in 2nd place!!!    

China Doll

This painting began in an "open figure" class as a quick "gesture" study. Later, I felt the study to be a good start for a painting.  Keeping the sketchy feeling from the original study was important to me.  This piece became one of several in my "red robe" series.  The red robe symbolizes my "heart" and appears in many of my paintings.   

White hat

Last summer I studied with nationally known artist Kim English.  This small painting was one of the many studies I did in the workshop.  This particular piece is one of my favorites.  Marla, the model for this piece is one I have painted many times, both in my studio and outdoors.  This painting is actually two poses of her.  First, I painted the Marla on the left, then instead of beginning a new canvas, I simply added her standing pose. I did several of these studies.....some working for only 5 minutes on a pose.   

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Head Detail

Remember when I said I was finished????  Well, after studying the face, I just had to add a few more strokes. I enhanced the cheek color and defined the eyes.   Eyes are so important in a portrait. .  Highlights on the eye have to be just so....not too large, yet enough to bring the subject to life.   Adding that final "spark" is my favorite part of portrait painting.  

Monday, March 8, 2010

Penrod 5

Notice anything new???  Compositionally, I felt the painting needed something more, so I added a blue ball in the background.   Richer color was added throughout the painting.  Strong shadows and highlights were introduced .  The dark vertical line in the background has been softened.  After a 6 hour session, I feel "Penrod" is complete.  Tomorrow this portrait will be framed  and hung in the Decorator's Showhouse. I am extremely proud of this painting, and consider it one of my best works.     

Penrod 4

As you can see, I have made some changes in the composition of my painting.  The chair is gone and now Penrod is standing against a wall.  I worked on "redrawing" the hand and plane. The knickers have more folds and a richer color.  I feel good about today's session.    

Monday, March 1, 2010

Penrod 3

This is my third day of painting Penrod, and my most frustrating.  Unfortunately, I have lost the original value sketch that I had in the beginning.  Also, I have begun to overwork the face.  And the HAND with the airplane????  I really need to be working on everything at once.  But, I keep going back to the face!!! This is not going well.  I have been here before....this is when you walk out the studio door and come back tomorrow!!

Penrod 2

This is my second session with the Penrod paintng.  As you can see, I have begun to add some color, especially on the hat and shirt. I did some research on "knickers", and changed the drawing a bit to create folds in the pants.  At this point in the painting, I am not sure how I will be developing the background. There is a strong light source coming from a window, however, do I want to paint the window???  I want to keep the focus on young Penrod, so will probably keep the background fairly simple.   Painting is not only about color and brushstrokes, but  constant "problem solving".  And that CHAIR!!!  Why did I photograph my model leaning against a modern day chair!!!!  

Penrod 1

This year's Decorator's Show House is the former home of Indiana author Booth Tarkington. One of his books, "Penrod"is about a young boy's life and antics growing up in the early 1900's. I was asked by artist and designer Kathleen Stevens to do a series of paintings for an area she will be decorating.    I began by doing a photo shoot of my grandson Gabriel dressed as the young boy, Penrod.  The above photo shows the beginning stages of my painting.  I always enlarge my photo in "black and white".  This gives me a perfect reference from which to begin a value study.  I use a mixture of Sap Green and Alizarin  as a dark transparent wash.  It is perfect for the dark and middle values.  The color of the clear coated linen makes for a nice light tone.  I love the way this turned out, so much so that I almost left it as an "oil study".  But, after several days of studying it in my studio, I decided to take my painting  to the next stage. The following blog entries will be a step by step progression of my portrait of Penrod. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Journal

This painting began in an open figure session where I was working from a live model. I liked it, but knew it needed more work.  After a few days in the corner of my studio, I finally put it back on my easel, and began the process of taking a study from life to a completed studio painting.  And when, exactly, is a painting complete????  I always refer to the quote by Paul Gardner, "a painting is never finished, it simply stops in interesting places"..

The Black Dress

This small oil study was painted in an Open Figure session . Doing 10 minute paintings forces you to  work fast and make quick decisions.  I know I could do more with this piece, but I like it just as it is .    

Sunday, January 24, 2010


This is a small oil study of my grandson Jesse.  It is painted on clear-coated linen, a surface I discovered recently.  I love the way it feels and looks, especially with my color palette.  Jesse is a little shy at times, and I feel this painting captures that.


This is my older grandson Gabe or Gabriel as he now likes to be called. Again, I have used my favorite linen adhered to a wood panel.  Both paintings of my little guys were done "alla prima".  I find working this way keeps the painting fresh and not overworked.   Love those "blue eyes" !!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Down by the Wabash

This landscape was painted "plein air" along the Wabash River in the small town of New Harmony,
Indiana. Every year artists from all over come to participate in the annual New Harmony Paintout. It is held each Spring just when all the trees and flowers are beginning to show their color. Note the vibrant red tree in my landscape.
This particular painting won an award in the Paintout competition. It remains in my personal collection.

The Bedroom

This painting is part of my "red robe" series. A few years ago, when going thru some difficult times, I added "red robes" in many of my works. It represents my "heart".

This is one of my favorite paintings.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Walking in Sunshine

This painting was created from a photo session in my backyard. ,
Again my favorite models, daughter Nikko with Gabriel and Jesse playing in the sunshine. It was a beautiful,happy day.

Morning Story

This is another oil on linen painting of my daughter and her little boys. I love the intimacy of this pose, showing the special bond of mother and sons.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Momma'a Locket"

This is my first post, so I chose a painting of my daughter Nikko and my grandsons that I painted about a year ago. This painting was exhibited in the IAC show at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
It received an award and remains in my personal collection.