Recent Painting


AscensionI just finished a painting, a big one, 70″ tall.  I thought you might be interested to see how a painting develops, so I put some  pictures in chronological order.

I had a dream many years ago that I had painted my house all crazy colors and I found myself on the roof finishing up the chimney.  I know my house represents moods in my subconscious dreamland and the painted house was a joyful revel.  I have always wanted to do a painting of that dream.

First I did a little color sketch to try to figure out what to include.  I started with photos of my old house in Marietta.   I also remembered some pictures I had taken of a storm passing by when I was in Guatemala years ago when the sky blackened up like a dark fist, it rained furiously, then the clouds parted and the sun emerged in dramatic rays.  I found those photos and tried to see if I could bring the sunny house in Marietta and the rays of sunlight together.  In my dream rays of light had been beaming down on me as I finished up the final painting touches on the chimney.  A house needs a neighborhood so next I found a house I liked and added it.

0.House          1.5.guatemala          2.otherhouse 

1.ecstacyself      Next I went up on the roof and had David snap pictures of me up there with a paint brush.  I wore red to draw attention to myself.


  Now I love a Paul Klee painting.  So I decided to paint my house, in my painting, the colors in a Klee painting.  I went to Kinkos and made color xeroxes of one of my favorite paintings of his and actually stuck the xeroxes on a box to simulate a house.  I had painted in the house in stripes like in the Klee piece, but it was too staid.  I mentioned it to my neighbor Rick and he said when he had been in Munich recently he came across a painted house and showed me pictures of it.  Wow!  Turns out it is a paint company.  Here is a picture of it.3.5.reblHouse
Here is my underpainting.           Here is an early stage.              Here’s a little later.
4.underpainting  .       5.          6.5.earlyonpainting
I decided there was too much red on the roof, with the chimney red and me in red, so I had David snap more photos of me up there in a yellow tank top.Me on the roof in yellow.

One morning I was walking our dog Kumho around the neighborhood and the sun was just coming up and was raking across some spring hostas.  They were glowing yellow-green with sunlight.  I had to go back home and get the camera save the image.  Those hostas then made their way to the front of my painting

.morning hostas        7.5.earlyonw:hostas       8.grasses

The grass in the foreground was giving me fits, I couldn’t get it to look like it was laying flat.  So I started taking a good look at grass as I walked Kumho.  What did it look like up close?  At a distance? Please take a look at  the textures of flowers and individual grasses closer to the camera and observe that they visually blend together as the ground recedes.

I then decided to put in a ladder because how in the heck did I get up there without a ladder?  And the thought of painting a ladder was really exciting.  (boy do I have a boring life!)  I had to get the right perspective on the ladder so it would look like it had a similar perspective as that of the house.  You can’t be viewing the house from the right side and the ladder from straight on when painting realistically unless you don’t mind being called a Cubist or Surrealist!  I also had to figure out if the ladder would cast a shadow on the house or the bushes below so I stuck a white sheet over our grill beneath the ladder to take a look at what a ladder shadow would look like.

I still thought something else up in the very front would make the plane of grass come towards the viewer more successfully.  I decided on including some  paint cans.  I went to Home Depot and actually bought those colors.

9.ladder     10.paintcans       11.paintingw:paintcans


12.roses     13.caladium       14.caladiumtoo

The house next door needed some color and some roses in the neighborhood were gorgeous – they got added.  I still needed something for the flower box out front.  I went to Pikes and took pictures of lots of plants but decided that just the white  ones would work because of so much going on in the painting already.  I went to Pikes a few times – the employees looked at me askance  but let me continue photographing.  White caladiums.

15.June23         15.5.july2,2013        16.pinetree

The trees behind the house just looked like big green candy cotton so I began to look at the shapes of trees up against the sky.  I loved the pines.  I want to  paint a garden or forest next to paint more pine trees.  They have strong individual personalities.  The trees then got repainted as particular trees.

17.July12       18.blueskythroughclouds       19.July16th

The sky wasn’t working, it had areas that were dark purplish.  I greyed it down.  I started looking at the sky after a storm and observing the fluffy, wet storm clouds against the newly cleaned bright, clear blue sky.  Wow!

20.July17th      21.July19th       21.5.sunrays

The sky still looked weird.  I had my painter friends Jim and Jeane come over and Jeane immediately saw what I could not – the sun rays needed to pierce through the blue of the sky.  I had never noticed sun rays  behaved like that before.  That’s whats so exciting about painting from life, you get to really observe what life looks like.  And the next day I saw rays of sunlight coming down through the trees in our backyard, they came all the way down to the ground, they don’t stop until they are interrupted by a solid form.  Blue clear sky is not a solid form.

21.75sun-rays        22.       23.meinwhite

I decided to bag my sky.  I found this picture on the web of a beautiful sky with sun rays and simply sanded off the old sky and put in the new.  I had to flip it around.  What a lot of work because the trees had to be repainted in front of the new sky.  I also felt I needed to be wearing white so here I am in white.  White is angelic and would stand out against the sky.


So then it looked OK to me.  It was then a matter of getting a good photo of it.  The photos may still be too dark but the painting is big and heavy; I made the stretcher and it weighs a ton;  it is like a sail with the least bit of wind.  So right now I’m satisfied with these photos.  Now to frame it.




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Thomas Nash Portrait Painting Seminar

I took the Thomas Nash Portrait Painting Seminar this August.  It lasted one week from 9:30am until 5:30 pm for five days.  I had a great time.  Mornings Thomas lectured and afternoons we painted from the model.  I highly recommend  it.  It took place at the Arts Place in East Cobb County.

Here is a link to Thomas’ web-site:

and here is a link to the Art Place in Marietta, GA:

We painted from a live model, never a photograph.

Monday and Tuesday we painted from the model.  Thomas  lectured and demonstrated in the mornings, and we painted all afternoon.


 Tuesday evening Thomas and his wife Donna had us to their home.  Wow, what a studio he has built.  Big three story window facing north.  He has paintings and giclees all over the wall for people to sample and get an idea of what they might like for themselves to order in a portrait.  Here are some  pics from the studio.


Thomas has made a plexiglass box to encase a human skull, so students can get the idea of the geometry of a head.


He explained his  process when painting the commissioned portrait of Mayor Maynard Jackson, showing us his preliminary sketch.


Thomas explained that if he had painted Mayor Jackson’s arms slightly different his subject’sattitude would also have appeared very different.


And that big mirror in the corner reflects the whole room, even me taking the picture.

On Wednesday we focused on color, and Thomas changed the color of the light on the model, and the background color.  We made quick, gestural color studies.

He projected photos he had taken of our model through a Photoshop program called Threshold, in a darkened room of course during the lecture part of the course.  Threshold can take the light out of a form and make it very,very dark — or Threshold can be dialed up so the same photo seems to be bathed in light.  Through this Threshold Thomas pointed out where the light changed direction across facial forms, where it blended together gently, and he could clearly point out the face’s lights and shadows and forms.                             

On Thursday Thomas had a mom bring in her squirmy baby, and as he sketched her he talked of the ways to keep kids less active while posing, how long kids can generally be expected to sit, and many other tricks only learned through long experience.


Here is my finished portrait of the model.  It is 24″ x 18″ and I figure about 12 hours of painting time, not counting breaks and demos.




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