Study of Coke bottles

March 31, 2010

Coke bottles, oil on canvas, alla prima from life, 8x8 in.

This is my demo from Monday’s oil class, some Coke bottles with an old egg beater and ice cream scoop, and a metal can. I was particularly drawn to the strip of red on the labels and their reflections, plus the red on the egg beater handle. The red gave this a nice graphic feeling to it that I tried to emphasize. It has the feel of a silkscreen rather than an oil painting in many respects. The nostalgic feeling of the kitchen tools is echoed in the iconic shape of the Coke bottles. Objects that are this distinctive must be drawn correctly if they are to have the desired effect, particularly if painted loosely as they are here. Practice drawing whenever you can, it goes a long way when working with complex objects such as these, even if you choose to depict them in a more abstract manner.


Pastelmat – Trying a New Surface

March 28, 2010

Yellow roses, pastel on Pastelmat, 9x12 in.

Pastelmat is a new surface I tried recently. It is smoother than Wallis paper but is still a sanded paper designed for pastel. I found it to be very nice to work with, both hard and soft pastels layer nicely on it, the surface is easy to cover and it comes in a nice range of colors. It is in the same price range as Wallis, a little on the high side but worth it for the results.

The study above was a demo I did in last week’s Intro to Pastel class. It was the first time I’d ever used Pastelmat (a little risky for a demo) and I was very pleasantly surprised at how nicely the NuPastels adhered to the surface. Although I like Art Spectrum paper, I don’t always get the coverage and ability to layer that I have with this sheet or with Wallis. I’m happy to have found an alternative to Wallis that comes in a wider variety of colors. I will continue to use Wallis in much of my work, but like the fact that I now have a choice if I want to work on a different color background.

Note: I have a new series of Intro to Pastel classes beginning on April 16. The course is at the NJ Visual Arts Center in Summit and runs for 10-weeks, for more information, visit the center’s web site.


March 25, 2010

Iris & Roses 1 (left side) of diptych, two 9x12 in. panels, oil on canvas

Iris & Roses 2 (right side) of diptych, two 9x12 in. panels, oil on canvas

 These are 2 demos from my oil classes this week. Some Siberian Iris and white & apricot/yellow roses. I decided to turn them into a diptych (print out and put side by side to get the idea).  Really aiming for the abstract with these new ones…more to come.

NOTE: These pieces were done as demos in my NJ Visual Arts drawing and painting classes, for more info or to register for a class, visit the NJ VAC web page.

Flowers Alla Prima

March 23, 2010

Flower study, oil alla prima from life, 8x8 in.

This is one of my demos from last week’s classes. Around this time of year, I always like to take advantage of the availability of fresh flowers. Flowers are great for creating loose, semi-abstract compositions that are full of spontaneity and movement. I’ve used a limited palette on this of cobalt, king’s blue, alizarin, yellow ochre, cad red, cad yellow, burnt umber and titanium white. The key to keeping these fresh looking is to remember to place color next to color rather than over blending. Edges can overlap and become soft, but resist the urge to blend too much. This will help to avoid mud and keep the colors pure and the brushwork visible.

Intro to Pastel – New Class Begins April 16

March 21, 2010

Pastel on Wallis paper, 9x12 in.

I have a new series of classes beginning April 16 at the NJ Visual Arts Center in Summit. The class is designed for artists interested in learning the basics of working with pastels. Students will learn about using pastels on a variety of surfaces, layering soft and hard pastels, and using them with other media such as acrylics. The class runs for 10 weeks on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to noon. For more information and to register, visit the NJ Visual Arts Center web site.

Rittenhouse Square – almost done…

March 18, 2010

Rittenhouse Square, acrylic on canvas work in progress, 36x48 in.

The above piece in its earliest stages

 This piece is nearly done, another Philadelphia urban landscape. This is Rittenhouse Square in the rain. I’ve tried to give it a misty, atmostpheric look that makes the church look a bit mysterious but not ominous. I hope to finish it in the next round, it is nearly there.

This is acrylic on canvas painted in much the same manner as the Crab Market posted yesterday. Palette is nearly identical to the other piece, but with less emphasis on the reds and more emphasis on the purples, greys and yellows.

Crab Market, Philadelphia – Acrylic on Canvas

March 17, 2010

Crab Market, acrylic on canvas, 48x36 in.

 Above is the final version of the Crab Market, which is an interpretation of a black and white photo by photographer John Andrulis. I have earlier stages of this one in some previous posts. Because of its large size, I used some unusual tools: paint rollers (the kind you use for trim), sponge applicators and very large brushes. I wanted to keep this very loose and semi-abstract, with a lot of bold brush work and movement. Acrylic was the perfect medium for this, it enabled me to work quickly and yet retain a painterly feeling to it, without a lot of hard edges. The rollers helped by allowing me to scumble large areas, thereby combining colors by layering them one on top of another, yet letting the under layers show through. It intentionally has a very rough feeling to it, I’ve started a second one in which I hope to carry this concept of abstraction and rough edgedness a little further.

This piece along with the second one will be part of the JAG Fine Art Spring Exhibition which opens April 1 in Center City, Philadelphia. For more information, visit