Storefront, 8th Ave. NYC

November 27, 2009

Storefront, 8th Ave. NYC, oil on canvas, 8x10 in.

Orange brick with white trim, fire escapes and morning light, could not pass this one up. I hope to put it in the upcoming Salmagundi Thumb Box exhibition held from Dec. 7 through the end of the year. The show will feature small works (no larger than 8×10 in.) and all must be priced under $750. Many good works will be available from a variety of artists, these small paintings make great holiday gifts and support the Club at the same time. There are a lot of small works exhibits taking place during holiday shopping season. Somerset Art Association’s Small Treasures Silent Auction is being held on Dec. 5 from 2-4 p.m. I have a small exhibit in the faculty gallery as well and am offering unframed studies and demos for sale priced affordably for holiday shopping. Why not buy something a little different this year? You’ll be supporting your local arts organizations and giving a unique and lasting gift. For more info about either of these events, call the Salmagundi Club at 212-255-7740 or the Somerset Art Association at 908-234-2345.


Gestural Urban Landscape Drawings

November 25, 2009

black acrylic on paper with white charcoal

black acrylic and white charcoal on paper

Black acrylic on hot press (smooth finish) watercolor paper or bristol pad makes an excellent drawing medium. I like to add a bit of white charcoal at the end to draw out highlights and to create reflective effects. Drawing with a brush (I used a 1/4″ angle brush on these) enables you to stay loose and capture a lot of gesture. I work transparently blocking in large shapes and moving through the value range. Typically, I can acheive a range of 4 to 5 values including the white of the paper. I like doing these both as studies and as finished drawings in and of themselves. They are highly valuable when working on the images in color, and make a nice presentation when matted and framed.

Red Apples

November 24, 2009

Red Apples, oil on canvas, alla prima, 8x10 in.

Red apples are a challenge to paint, color variation and dark darks are key in getting them to look shiny and appealing. Palette I’ve used here is burnt umber, alizarin, yellow ochre, cadmium red, cadmiun barium yellow, cobalt blue, king’s blue and titanium white. While this painting has a predominance of warm tones, there are cools in the highlights, background and shadows to balance the warmth and provide contrast in temperature. Underpainting was done in burnt umber to establish strong darks, darkest reds were acheived by mixing alizrin with the burnt umber. I’ve used the cadmium red sparingly, always mixing it with some yellow ochre or some alizarin to make it richer and less “out of the tube red”. I’ve also used white very sparingly, while it is difficult to see on the digital photo, the highlights have a cool cast to them from the addition of king’s blue and a bit of alizarin to the white. I’ve almost completely avoided using any white in the colors on the fruit skin itself. The overal goal of this piece was to create a fresh, spontaneous rendering of the fruit as opposed to a formal still life. Details are included but placed quickly and confidently to imply their presence rather than to complicate the painting and change it’s overall feeling to one of photographic representation.

Work in Progress, South Street, Morristown

November 22, 2009

turps + burnt sienna on clear primed linen

The beginning of a new piece, much will be based on the acrylic study I did yesterday in terms of color. Will next block in transparent color to establish the balance in the composition. The bright orange construction sign presents challenges in the respect that it is so vibrant in color. Bits of bright orange will be placed throughout the comp to balance it and keep it from becoming too dominant. Much more to come…

Urban study

November 21, 2009

study of Morristown, acrylic and pastel on paper, 12x14 in.

This is a quick study of Morristown for a painting I have just started in oil. The study is acrylic used transparently like watercolor on paper, along with a bit of pastel thrown on top. Focus was on color harmony and gesture, sort of a trial run to get accustomed to things before starting in on the real thing. Will emphasize the blues and oranges in this, as well as giving it a warm feeling despite the rainy weather. Lots of motion/movement in this one from repeating shapes, strong angles. It will be an exciting piece to work on, hopefully the end result will match that in feeling.

Alternative Sources of Imagery

November 18, 2009

pastel study, mussels, lemons and garlic, about 7x10 in.

I brought in the shells from the mussels I had for dinner this past weekend for my students to paint. I often find leftovers, dirty dishes and other forms of refuse interesting as subject matter. What I’m painting does not matter so much as what patterns are made by the repeating shapes and colors in whatever the subject happens to be. I don’t look for beauty, but I do find connections and patterns that can create interest from very mundane and sometimes unusal sources.

For example, the mussels and garlic cloves mirror each other in shape. The mussels actually have a boat-like shape that can be very challenging to draw. The colors of their shells have a myriad of textures and value changes, from very rough to pearlescent.

I always encourage looking for subject matter in unusual places. Don’t look for something beautiful, look for connections, repeating shapes, colors and other visual clues that will help build a unifed and unique study in color and composition.

Studies of Metallic Surfaces

November 13, 2009

study of silver urn, oil on canvas, alla prima


silver urn, acrylic on paper


urn, creamer and cup, oil on canvas, alla prima

A few demos I did this week of metallic surfaces. Painting these types of objects are great for studying values as well as for observing subtle colors that are present but not always obvious at first glance. This is a great way to train your eye to become more attuned to your subjects, whatever they may be.

Palette = cobalt blue, alizarin, yellow ochre, burnt umber, burnt sienna, titanium white. Also added hints of King’s blue and Naples yellow, but these are colors that can easily be mixed from the above palette if you don’t have them. It’s important to capture both the warm and cool tones of the metal as you see them. Warm highlights will come from the spotlight you are using to light the subject, while cool ones may come in from ambient room light or window lighting. Push the dark values first and place colors next to one another when working alla prima, this will help you to avoid getting mud.