Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Sometimes I like to just do exercises. It takes me in a direction I wouldn't normally go, and it sharpens my skills. Athletes do push ups, musicians do scales... etc. Right now, I am doing the exercises in a classic book, The Elements of Drawing, by John Ruskin, first written in 1904! The exercises are surprisingly challenging.
This tree was drawn from life, and took about an hour. But it caused me to observe the patterns made by the branches. If you were asked to draw a tree from your imagination, would you draw something like this? I sure wouldn't. I would draw something more "artistic" looking. 
The tree is in front of the gas company office. It sits in a line with other Monterey cypresses that all look healthy. In fact, the others have so much foliage the branches aren't visible.This tree's trunk is scarred from much pruning, as if the owners have tried to save it many times over the years. It's easy to get anthropomorphic about trees. I started feeling like I was memorializing it by doing the drawing!

If you want to try reading Ruskin's book, get the illustrated edition, which follows the link. Some of the other editions are very irritating to read, because the author refers to artworks that aren't illustrated.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Portraits and Loss

Andrew Wyeth's father, N. C. Wyeth, died in an accident, when Andrew was a young man. I was really moved, listening to this interview, that he regretted having never gotten around to painting a portrait of his dad before he died. "I made drawings of him, but nothing important, and I think that was a great tragedy of my life when he was killed, that I hadn't done it."

Portrait of the Artist's Mother - gouache - 7 x 9"
It made me wonder, too, how when my mother was dying, I felt like I HAD TO do her portrait. Maybe it was my way of processing the grief... Maybe it was because I was thinking about her so much...
She would have moments when she seemed to be aware, and other moments, gone.

Portrait of the Artist's Mother #2 - watercolor pencils - 10 x 10"
Here's to you, Mom! I love you!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Melting into Night

Melting into Night - oil on gessoed panel - 12 x 12"
Here was a wonderful moody sunset. The thing I really like about it is the reflections of the trees in the water. They shimmer and look like they are melting.

I've read that if you want to sell your paintings, you should tell the story of each painting and how you came to paint it, because people love stories. Well, I really hope you will put your own story on my paintings. Does this remind you of anything? Can you smell the air? Hear the night insects starting their songs? How do you feel when you look at it? Do you sense a presence here? Is there a memory that you've almost forgotten...

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Break of Dawn

Break of Dawn - oil on museum quality board - 6 x 6"
Some things just ask to be painted. This is my second painting of this location. The other one was also at dawn, and I was a little further away. Here it is:
New Day - oil on museum quality board - 6 x 6"
This is a 10-minute walk from where I live. San Francisco Bay is on the other side of the little bridge. But I like to think both paintings have a timeless quality and could be anywhere.That way, we can relate them to our own life. It's about the mood, the stillness, the beginning of day... 

I hope you are able get out and watch the dawn. It's a great way to start the day!

If you would like to leave a comment, click here. I appreciate all comments! To buy either painting, or both, (be still my heart!) click here. New Day is framed in a black floater frame, Break of Dawn is unframed. Shipping is free. Please forward this to your friends or share on Facebook.