See the “W”?

October 20, 2011

City Hall, Philadelphia, acrylic 8x10 in.

I always look for a geometric or other form of recognizable shape in the overall shadows of a composition. For example, when I look at the reference source for this (you can do it when painting plein air as well), I see the letter “W” formed by all the dark shadows on the buildings on the sides and in the foreground. The little island median cuts into the bottom just enough to make the shape a “W” as opposed to a “U”. I also see a “T” formed by the sky and main building.

Looking for these shapes when planning your composition will help you to place them on the canvas as well as to create a strong design. The interlocking “T” and “W” above provide a strong structure. Once these basic forms are placed, they also provide landmarks so that elements of the composition and perspective can be seen more easily and therefore placed correctly.


Paint It Your Way!

September 4, 2011

Riverside cafe in winter, Clinton, NJ - ink wash drawing over splatter background

If you are looking for a course that will help you to discover and develop your own individual style of painting, Paint It Your Way! might be right for you.  This course focuses on universal concepts of drawing and painting that can be applied regardless of the medium and painting style that you prefer to work in. Demonstrations are done each week in alternating media such as oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal, and water media. Students are encouraged to experiment and try new media while identifying and clarifying the painting style which suits them best.

The course is held on Wednesdays from 9:30 to noon at the Visual Arts Center of NJ in Summit and runs for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 14. For more information on all of my courses, visit the art center’s web site. Questions? Call the art center at 908-273-9121, or send me an email at

It’s that time again…

September 2, 2011

Delancey Place, Philadelphia - watercolor 6x9 in.

It’s September! How quickly the summer went by. It’s time once again to register for fall courses at the Visual Arts Center of NJ and the Center for Contemporary Art. This week, I’ll be posting about my course offerings so you can select the class that will best suit your interests. First, I’ll talk about my newest offering at the Visual Arts Center of NJ:

Wet & Wild: An Alternative Approach to Watermedia – 10 weeks beginning Sept. 13, Tuesdays from 3:30 pm to 6 pm

This is NOT a traditional watercolor course!!! In this class, we will explore alternative methods of working in watercolor as well as other water-based media such as drawing inks, acrylics and markers. We will also combine mediums and work on alternative surfaces such as cardboard and Yupo paper.

Students who sign up for this course should be open to experimentation and ready to try something new. Basic drawing skills are needed if you plan to work representationally (an understanding and ability to apply concepts such as form, value, proportion and perspective).

Here are just a handful of the topics I plan to cover:

  • Splatter backgrounds with ink and watercolor – an exciting way to add interest to both representational and abstract subjects
  • Masking fluid and other “resist” methods of creating with water-based mediums
  • Figure studies in acrylic on cardboard – improve your understanding of the figure and the importance of gesture while working with acrylics on this fabulous recycled surface
  • Monochromatic ink wash drawings on cold press watercolor paper – build your knowledge and ability to see form and value with this fluid medium
  • Markers as a sketching medium – one of the most convenient ways to sketch on location
In this course, you may choose to try as many or as few of the mediums and techniques demonstrated. Bring what you have to the first class (pick any water-based medium) and we can discuss materials further so you don’t have to run out and buy things you won’t need.  I will also have a supply of acrylics on hand that first day that will be suitable for the first project–whatever you bring, we will make it work! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you in class. Questions? Call the Visual Arts Center of NJ at 908-273-9121, to register, click here for a link to all of my fall courses.


Exit 4B, Cross Bronx Expressway, Acrylic on Board

May 9, 2011

Exit 4B, Cross Bronx Expressway, acrylic on board, 24x12 in.

I just finished this one, the horizontal nearly panoramic format is very interesting to work with, particularly for highway/traffic paintings. This one is of Exit 4B on the Cross Bronx Expressway (Westbound), supposedly cited as the worst intersection in the US. I found the overpass, which is actually an elevated railway station, interesting in the way it crossed the roadway at an angle. There are lots of these types of overpasses and tunnels on the older highways in NY and NJ. They make great compositions if you enjoy severe angles and strong perspective. I use brushwork to emphasize that flow and sense of perspective whenever I can, stroking towards the vanishing point and using bold arched strokes with the darks to carve out the shapes of the tunnels. For verticals, I use the edge of an angled or flat brush rather than a very narrow round one. You get a much more natural looking line and it is easier to do because you have more contact with the surface.

This painting will be featured in my upcoming exhibit at the Visual Arts Center of NJ. The reception will be on June 17 from 6 to 8 pm. Meanwhile, please check out my solo show at Gallery Egan in Morristown, it will be on display until May 31.

Shadfest! Lambertville, April 29 – May 1

April 2, 2011

My poster for Lambertville's Shadfest 2011

Every year, the town of Lambertville hosts a silent auction of Shadfest posters. The posters are original artworks created by local artists. This is the first year I am participating. My painting is of some of the tourist boats at Coryell’s Ferry Landing. It is acrylic painted directly on the poster board.

Proceeds from the auctions go to a scholarship fund for promising young artists (high school students and undergraduates) from the Lambertville area. The festival features local foods, crafts and river activities. For more information on the poster auction visit the Lambertville Shadfest blog at

Lunch Hour, acrylic on canvas, progression video

February 20, 2011

A quick animation of this painting from start to finish!

And now for something completely different

October 29, 2010

study of Jake, pastel demo, about 4x5 in.

Jacques from Annecy, France - demo in oil, about 8x8 in.

Coquin, another dog I met in France, demo in pastel 6x9 in.

another study of Coquin, acrylic on paper, 5x7 in.

I rarely paint animals, but do enjoy putting them in urban landscapes. I try to capture their gesture rather than every hair and whisker. I approach them the same as I would any other subject, looking for the darkest values first, and working through all the middle and lights to create an underpainting upon which to add color. Fur has so many colors in it, white is never just white, nor black just black, there are so many hidden colors and textures.

Painting a subject that is different from what you normally paint gives you an opportunity to try something new, a chance to experiment. It’s refreshing to draw or paint something different, even if it is just for practice.