Pastel Demo – Brighter vs. Lighter

March 27, 2011

pastel demo of metal and satin, 7x9 in.

This was my demo in Friday’s pastel class, purple satin cloth, a silver coffee urn and some green apples.  In this demo, I stressed the importance of knowing the difference between lighter and brighter. For example, this cloth is a very deep purple with magenta highlights. If you really look at the cloth closely, you can also see some iridescent blues in the shadow areas. However, nowhere in the cloth is there a “light purple” or lavender, which is the color many artists might reach for if they are thinking light areas on a purple cloth. This cloth has a satin finish to it, so it is very reflective and bright, much like the surface of the coffee pot. Using white or lighter shades of the cloth’s color will not create the illusion of shininess, it will make the cloth appear flat.

Always LOOK at the object you are drawing or painting, do not rely on what you think are the colors present.


Winter on Parade – oil on canvas

March 25, 2011

Winter on Parade, oil on canvas, 11x14 in.

Coming down to the wire with just about one month until my first solo show of two back-to-back solo shows. The first show will be at Gallery Egan in Morristown this May. I am primarily featuring urban landscapes that include figures, crowds and urban life in motion.

This is my latest in the series, “Winter on Parade”. It is a bit different from my usual crowds en masse, in this piece I have actually pulled out a few key players and given them some individual details. I still imply details rather than painstakingly paint them, this provides a more spontaneous, expressive mood, which is key to me. I prefer to capture personalities with as few strokes as possible, making each one count towards developing the character I am painting.

The show will run from May 1 through May 31, with an opening reception on Friday, May 6 from 7-9 pm. Gallery Egan is located at 12 Community Place in Morristown, NJ. For more information, visit their web site at

Patterned Fabric – quick demo in pastel

March 19, 2011

fabric demo, pastel on Pastel Mat, 6×9 in., about 20 minutes

This is my demo from yesterday’s pastel class. I love drawing patterned fabrics. They key to getting them right is to emphasize form and let the pattern be secondary. I started this one on grey Pastel mat with a dark green NuPastel. I blocked in the drawing and values, making sure the fabric looked sculptural and correct before going to additional colors. Get a good range of at least 3 values in your under painting, don’t worry about small creases or the pattern at this stage–capture the gesture of the fabric (how it hangs) and the form (3-dimensionality). Once you have that, begin adding color on top.

I used a dark red pastel overall, I let the green under painting show through in the dark areas by not pressing as hard with the red on top. In the lighter areas, I used more pressure with the red. I always use the SIDE of the pastel to draw, you get a more confident application of pigment. Also, in the areas where the light is strongest, don’t be afraid to press hard to get the contrast between the dark and lighter values.

For the pattern, I simply choose the colors I see in the fabric and subtly apply them, not drawing each individual design, but implying them with strokes that mimic the shapes and contour of the design as it sits on the fabric. In the shadows, the pattern is less prominent, in the lighted areas, it is bolder. Don’t overdo the pattern, if you do, it will flatten out the rest of the drawing and make your fabric look flat.

Third and Final Salmagundi Spring Auction this Friday

March 16, 2011

Flatiron Winter Morning, oil on canvas, 6x12 in.

Flatiron Winter Morning will be featured in the third and final of the 2011 Salmagundi Spring Auction Series which takes place this Friday at 8 pm. Bids may be placed online or at the Club. Sales this year have been a bit slow due to the economy, enabling buyers to get some great deals. The auctions are a fun way to spend an evening, stop in and watch or see the action live online! For more information, call the Club at 212-255-7740 or email

Beat the Clock

March 12, 2011

pastel - 10 minutes

oil - 10 minutes

pastel - 30 minutes

Been having fun this week with quick, 10-minute gestural demos. A good way to practice learning to see the big shapes and important gestural lines that create 3 dimensional forms is to do quick studies of them for practice. The point is not to improve your speed, but to improve your ability to identify the values and forms that allow you to create the illusion of 3 dimensionality on paper or canvas.

Pick a single object, you might want to start out just doing these in charcoal, but if you prefer to work in color such as this, that’s fine too. Give yourself a specific time limit and don’t have the expectation of coming out with a fully realized end result–wherever you are at 10 minutes, you are. Don’t erase, just go over lines that are placed incorrectly, remember, you are not creating a beautiful painting, you are PRACTICING!

A couple 10-minute sketches per day will go a long way in improving your drawing skills. It’s fun, low-pressure and effective, give it a try!

Winter Morning Light – oil on canvas

March 9, 2011

Winter Morning Light (Broadway & 32nd St., NYC) oil on canvas, 11×14 in.

This is the latest in my series of paintings of scaffolding, the light and shadows were so intriguing, I knew as soon as I saw this that it would make a great subject. It’s obvious I love anything that has strong, linear, one-point perspective, and scaffolding is great for carving up space. Add the strong light and shadows, and it makes for a very strong statement.

When painting subjects that have a lot of linear components such as this, I am always asked if I used any type of straight edge. I don’t, I prefer to use a flat (bright) or angled brush turned on its edge. I extend my arm straight out and make a confident stroke downward. The result is a confident line, natural looking rather than “too perfect” or engineered-looking. Because I paint so loosely, the type of edge I would get with a ruler or straight edge would not fit, besides, I like the challenge of seeing how straight a line I can make freehand…the more of them you do, the easier it gets. 🙂

Grapes – Pastel Demo

March 4, 2011

pastel demo – 8×5 in. pastel on Pastel Mat

I did this quick little study of grapes as a demo for my pastel students. Grapes are one of the most complex subjects to draw or paint. If you think of them as masses, rather than individually you will get much better results.

Start by massing in the entire bunch of grapes, don’t draw individual globes, block in the shadows. From there, begin carving out those grapes which are the most prominent, these you can begin to add some details to. Remember that not every grape needs to be done in fine detail, keep the ones in the shadows and the ones at the bottom of the bunch subdued and just suggested.

Use a lot of color variation, grapes are translucent and have many colors in their skins: red grapes have blues, yellow ochres, greens and purples in them. The highlights should be handled in a way that includes both warms and cools and some that are prominent vs. others that are not as vibrant.

This is a good exercise in observation, drawing complex subjects helps to train your eye in reducing things down to basic shapes, as well as to better see a wide range of values and unexpected colors.