Thursday, January 29, 2015

More Jaguar

One of the things I especially like about using the Daniel Smith Venetian Red gesso is that it forces me to push color.
When I first starting using it, I thought I was crazy. All my colors were off and I had to quickly rethink the palette I had been using for more than a decade. Each color needs to be darker and more intense.

That change seems to be serving me well in this piece.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Adding light

Often I work with the shadow of an animal first. Here I wanted to play with the lightest areas first to give me a feel for the greatest contrast areas and how they will work with the background.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Of course in changing my direction to a jaguar (see previous post), I now have spots and more complicated eyes. But, I love cats and it has been a while since I painted a jaguar.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I had it all worked out. My last major piece for the upcoming Safari Club International show.
A grizzly bear which would nicely round out some North American pieces I am bringing in addition to a bevy of African paintings.

Last week I ordered the frame. Perfect. The timing was going to be perfect.
I drew the grizzly and started on the painting with the background I envisioned. This was going to be a great piece.

Hmm. I don't like the background. Okay. New background.
Not sure I like the new one but maybe when I get the grizzly painted it will all come together. Eyes painted, nose, mouth, head.

I stand back and look at it. It is alright so far. And that's the problem. It is only alright.

Time for a reboot. For that you think of turning off a computer and then turning it back on. In this case, time to leave the studio and turn off the computer and revisit the painting in the morning.

Late at night. Time for bed but the painting keeps bothering me. Time to rethink, reconsider. What if I scrapped the whole painting? Can I find something I can really get excited about and still finish it in the allotted time? Will it work with the frame I ordered? (no time to order another frame.) Many hours later I have a new painting idea.

Morning and time to look at my bear again. No, whatever I do I think the painting will end up only okay... and that's not good enough.

With my palette knife, I start scraping off all the paint. Last to go are the eyes which watched me erase the bear from existence.

I wash the remnants of paint from the board with turpentine and let it dry.
Time to redraw.

Below you can see the beginning of the new painting and I believe this jaguar piece is headed in the right direction. No struggle, no second-guessing. I can relax into the joy of painting.

Reboot, rethink/reconsider, redraw, relax.  It's worth it.

Friday, January 16, 2015


His High-ness
30" X 44"
Original Oil

Once the interstices were partially done, I realized they had to be darker to contrast more with the highlighted sections. Also since the last blog, I lightened some of the branches on the feature tree to soften their look.

Often I have trouble with titles. The title was not coming. Tree- topper, Lofty something-or-other, Passing Through, Tall whatever. Then it hit me. His High-----ness.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Seeing spots

Giraffe, zebra, cheetahs, and leopards always seem to take the most time. Stripes and spots. But, I love painting them.

I start with the giraffe spots and then come back and fill the interstices. Each is blended into the other to form a natural transition which gives the impression of hair.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Hand rest

Now that I am working on the prominent tree, I've added my uprights which support my hand rest. This enables me to ergonomically rest my hand while painting in the middle of a section of wet paint and will be particularly handy with the giraffe.

(You can see 1/2 of the hand rest at the bottom of the photo. I can move it up and down and place it in any position with the clamps.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A big painting

While miniatures are fun, sometimes an idea calls for a large format to have the most effect. I'm not an expert on what size to paint an idea, but I do get a gut feeling on which direction to go.

This piece insisted on being big. I kept trying to work it into a smaller painting, but it didn't feel right until I settled on 30" X 44". Yes, a lot of "ground" to cover.

I worked on some of this over the holidays and this is the stage I am at.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The New Year

Happy New Year!

Thank you for your patience- it has been a while since I posted last. In the meantime, I worked on two miniatures on my desktop easel. One is below.

6" X 11"
Original Oil

Also, I worked on a much larger painting in the studio while my four nieces painted their own pieces at a large round table in my studio. When their masterpieces are dry and I can scan them, I'll share their amazing work with you.

Next up, the big painting on my easel.