Wednesday, June 23, 2010

American Landscape

There are many a person who can't imagine a better way to spend a day than meandering through endless isles of botanical delights. Fungi and fuschsias, herbs and apples trees, and novels of dahlias all displaying their fronds to entice the grower inside of us all. For me, the better day is one spent painting pictures of the  nursery rather than buying out the plants. We makes choices in our lives every day as to how to spend our time, our most precious commodity. I let the weeds grow in my flower beds and always choose to spend my time at the easel where I can leave the deadheads and ill-pruned tree out of the picture and focus on what is beautiful in my life's composition.
Flower World is located in Maltby, a tiny town east of Seattle, where acres of plants are housed in charming plastic encased greenhouses and are lovingly cared for by energetic people whose thumbs glow green under their gloves.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh Baby!

Oh baby! Oh dear! That’s what my painter friends said when I told them I had a commission to paint a five month old. Wait till he’s older, like three, when the face is more developed. But it was a commission and by now it was sounding like a real challenge as well. My interpretation of a commission is to make the painted face look as close to the real person as possible. Another friend of mine calls this type of commission “Lick Lick Lick” meaning you use a tiny brush and you lick at the piece till you get it right. And as I neared the end of the painting, that’s exactly what I found myself doing; tiny brush, my nose practically in the painting, using my dozens of reference photos to try to understand certain areas better. It’s not my favorite way of painting but you’ll do just about anything, short of giving the devil your soul, to get the painting just right. That’s one way to be satisfied. When I delivered the painting to the mom, she said, “Oh baby!” and she was very happy. That’s another way to be satisfied. And I am.

Friday, June 4, 2010


After finishing two commissions where it was hugely important that the painting look exactly like the person, I had a real need today to cut loose. I love painting all prima more than anything...alla prima means doing the piece in one setting and painting wet paint on top of the already wet paint you just put down. It's a similar method to the way I painted in watercolor. I love going loose and juicy with the paint and had wanted to do a gray cityscape with yellow lights for a while now. I guess it felt right painting a rainy scene today too since its pouring cats and dogs out right now. The artist is never the same exact person two days in a row so her paintings shouldn't be either.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bellisimo Venice

It matters little whether or not you have ever been to Venice or seen the Atlantic Ocean or viewed the Dead Sea. What matters is that most of us are drawn to water. We love it as a spectator, sitting on the porch of a beach house watching the crashing waves. Some are desperate to be on it in a snug little boat. Others simply can’t get wet enough in the surf and swim. The point is that we are pulled towards water and hence, there is an abundance of water themed paintings. Painting the wet stuff has been the bane and highlights of many a painter. We all attempt it over and over trying to get it just right. And because water is reflective, it often offers up amazing distortions of real life. Even wet pavement reflecting brake lights on a dark evening can be a fantastic vision. The challenges for me in this painting were to make the reflections on the canal look real enough but also more interesting than they really were. I also attempted to put into practice atmospheric perspective which, if done correctly, makes the far buildings and canal go back into the distance. Living in Seattle, a city surrounded by lakes, bays, canals, Puget Sound, and the Pacific gives ample opportunity for painters who too want to take on the challenge of painting water.