My First Art Opening

The painting continues...time is moving quickly these days...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Walking to School

This was still wet when I took this photo and has quite a bit of shine to the surface.
I exaggerated the golds and the reds for this one to give the feel of a glowing morning, which it was.
This was my daughters first full day of Kindergarten.
For this one, I went right from the dry under painting and completed the painting in a little over four hours.
I had been waiting to do the sky after the second layer had dried, but I wanted to get it done and also wanted to see if I could get the lighter colors to not only sit over any wet paint but also mingle a bit with the leaves to give more depth.
I think that I was successful.
This is a sweet subject and it is a keeper.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Portraiture by Edward Hopper

Here is a great portrait by Edward Hopper. It is an interesting pose that he chose to paint his wife. He probably painted her in on the spot (plein air).
He painted her as she painted.
Amazing how he makes it look simple.


This project has been a challenge in that it has been my first attempt at a portrait in a long time.
I like the finished product (almost finished) but I continue to like the earlier stage above. Something about the unfinished quality is interesting. I need to play with this in future paintings.
Well, this was a good first try, but it is over worked and my transitions are a bit abrupt. The contrast is good. I did smooth out the gradient on his arm, which you can see in the two close-up photos.
Painting or drawing a likeness is one of the hardest things that I have done. This came out very close to what Aidan looks like, which is promising.

Aidan has a rather heroic pose going on here and I am glad I could capture it. He has been watching me do the painting and he seems pleased. He asked me how much I was going to sell it for and I told him that it would probably not go up for sale.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Three paintings

Today is Sunday and I completed the under painting on the left.
Now I have three painting starts.
I have a bit of a cold or something and the associated aches and pains are keeping me from painting more today.
I have had two breaks during this mornings session, which is how many I should take anyway.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Painting Aidan

I needed a break from all the urban/industrial scenes so I am finally trying some paintings of people.
In this case, I started a painting of my son at the beach. While I still used a grid to help with the under painting, I did not need to do any additional layout lines. I just went right to laying down paint to sketch out the scene. This was very relaxing and very satisfying.
This image of Aidan at the beach was one of the rare moments that I was able to get him to pose, but not pose for a photo, if that makes any sense.
The composition is good with the opportunity to create color fields with the background elements. The light and shadow contrast is very good. September light is my favorite for it's long shadows and warm glow.
The canvas is 16" x 32", for which I made the stretcher of old wood from the Rebuilding Center. I will be starting another painting of this size as well, which will be of my wife and kids on their way to school.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Camera Is Sweet

I have been playing with this new camera. It is pretty nice for the cost. It is at least twice as powerful as the old camera, which I have been bitching about for years, and has a built-in rechargeable battery. It does not "curve" the edges of my paintings when I shoot them, which is great.
Now I need to find an affordable way to get better studio lighting that will reduce glare. I used some old t-shirts to cover the lights for this photo, which helps, but reduces the light quite a bit.
The battery life seems to be quite long and is designed to be able to recharge through the USB cord, so I can both charge and download images.
This camera takes nice movies as well, which will be fun to play with as well.
Maybe some film clips to add to the blog?
This 4' x 4' painting of the waterfront, "Beneath the Broadway Bridge" is still for sale, by the way.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Easel

I have been wanting to make an easel that can handle large paintings.
For a few bucks, at the Rebuilding Center, I was able to fabricate this thing.
Now, I was hoping to build in more adjustable parts, but I could not get everything to work.
The lower shelf has wooden brackets that connect to the main verticals (2x4's). These brackets were supposed to have holes drilled in them which were going to correspond to holes in the verticals, but that was easier said than done. For now, the shelf is "pinned" to the vertical members with screws. On a large painting, it is unlikely that I will be wanting to move it up and down much. It only takes a few minutes to reset the screws anyway.
If this works out, maybe I will build a more refined easel for this purpose.
In any case, I can now make paintings up to 80" tall if I want.
The photo was taken with my new camera, a Nikon Coolpix S3100. I sold a painting and invested a little in this new camera and am already enjoying the quality of the photos.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New York Bridge

This project has been a challenge. It has taken me longer to complete this due to summer vacations, day job and being lazy.
I am finally finished with the Manhattan bridge painting and am looking forward to getting it out of the house.
This detail from the painting shows a yellow school bus, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the painting.

Here is a detail of the bridge.

I painted the vertical cables last using a straight edge. I don't usually use a straight edge while I am painting, but since these needed to be relatively straight and I no longer had the under painting to depend on, I opted to paint the lines on top. I also went back in and added back in lines to accentuate the edges against the blue sky.

There is quite a bit going on in this painting and I have learned some things about doing street scenes.
The amount of layout required to get the perspective right was a bit overwhelming and I stressed about keeping things right.

I was pulling my hair out with the bicyclist and realized that I had the rear wheel too high, which made it look very odd. A quick repainting of this area did the trick.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Manhattan Bridge Start

This is a new painting for some friends who wanted something about New York.
The guy is from New York originally and misses the Bid Apple occasionally. This image is of the Manhattan bridge as seen from Brooklyn. It is 48" x 32"
I think that this was the most intensive layout that I have done to date.
I was not able to visit New York to do this, so I scrounged an image off the internet, squeezed it a bit and went at it.
This will be a good base for the final painting and I hope to keep a loose feel over the harder line layout.
There is quite a bit more detail in the foreground buildings, but I want to keep them more simple to emphasize the bridge beyond.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mr Ai is free!

Here is a link to the NY Times report:

It looks like China decided holding Mr Ai was not worth the trouble. This is a good move on their part, but does not excuse their behavior.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Passed over overpass

I have been wanting to paint this elevated highway scene for a while. This is where 30 and 405 intersect in NW Portland.
These overpasses are so over scaled and must have been quite the undertaking.
I like this scene because of the way the curves intersect. I have seen these things painted by a few artists and thought that now was the time to give it a try.
There is a simplicity here that I can focus on as well.
This image is of the under painting.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It has been a while

I have been too busy with work and home that I have not been able to do much, but I did manage to get this painting done.
I like this photo as it gives some context to my work. Besides, I just can't get a good straight on shot of a painting this big.
I'm still working on getting that better camera, but with all the bills that seem to be coming in, I will be lucky to have enough to buy painting supplies.
As I mentioned earlier, this painting is 4' x 4' and would look great in a big living room or loft, hint, hint.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This man is Dangerous

This was in the US news media for about five minutes, but the arrest of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei this month is a tragedy on many levels.
The photo above of Ai holding sunflower seeds, part of an installation that he did.
He also has done more provocative work, such as a photo of him giving Tienenmen square the finger. He is a harsh critic of the Chinese government. He is dangerous.
I have strong feelings about this as should we all.
China should be concerned that it is forcing out or silencing it's creative peoples. The large scale production of poorly made, inexpensive products with little emphasis on quality is a sure sign of this. China exports millions of products, but they have very little creative influence in the world.
The little that they do have is potentially crushed.

Hey China, listen up. Do yourself a favor and drop this totalitarian bullshit before it is too late. See what is happening in the Middle East? You think you can keep people under control, but your control is self defeating. Each incident like this puts you more in the Bad Guy role.
Modify your outmoded government to allow personal freedom and creativity. Dare I say "Democracy"? Ok, baby steps...

but let Mr. Weiwei go!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Making a Canvas

Well, it has been a while since I have posted. This past weekend I got a bee in my bonnet about making a large canvas.
To buy a 4' x 4' canvas would cost me over $100 and I wanted to do it for under $20.
I purchased a 5' x 6' piece of unprimed canvas for $11 at a local art store. The wood stretcher bars that you can buy cost around $15 for each 4' section, which would cost $60 just for the stretcher.
That was too much bread so I went over to the Portland rebuilding center and found some wood trim that makes a nice stretcher edge (I have done this before). The salvaged wood only cost me $6! Nice, but I will need to fabricate the stretcher.

Here is the profile of the wood trim. It has a nice edge that the canvas can stretch over without making too much contact. The trim is also real wood, which makes it lighter and stronger than MDF.
I cut the trim into 4' sections using my chop saw.

I used by biscuit cutter to joint the pieces together. The biscuit cutter is a power tool atht can cut slots into adjoining pieces of wood to allow a wood "biscuit" to fit into each slot, joining the pieces together.

I used glue to hold the pieces together. A metal square is used to true up the frame.
The wood trim that I used has a big cross section and probably would work without braces, but since I had all the equipment out, I figured it would be better to be safe than sorry.
I had some extra wood pieces in my garage that I cut with 45 degree angles and again used the biscuit cutter to join them to the frame. Now I have a solid stretcher frame to stretch the canvas over

The camera makes the frame looked bowed, but it is very true and square.
Then I waited for the glue to dry and stretched the new canvas over the frame.
Then a prime the canvas with three coats of Gesso and I have a big 4' x 4' canvas for less than $20. Ok, so I have all the tools and some extra primer, but I still think that this counts as a money saver. I did spend about three hours making the thing. I did have enough wood to make an extra 2' x 2' stretcher. I should have thought ahead and got one more yard of canvas, but I can get that anywhere for a low price.

Hmm, now I have to find something to paint!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Art on Wheels

This post was meant for another blog, but I made it here by accident. I am too lazy to move it to the correct place, so here it stays.
Since The Art of the Motorcycle was a recent exhibit at the Guggenheim museum in New York, I think it will be safe in my art blog.

This is another passion of mine. I am a motorcycle addict.
I ride a Kymco Super 8 150cc scooter at the moment. I had to sell my Yamaha FZ1 (1000cc, 120 hp, 0 to 60 in 3 seconds) bike because I needed to pay for a summer vacation. I rode my bicycle to work for a year and decided I was going to get killed. I was hit once during that time and other cyclists are not as nice or smart as I hoped.
The scooter is cheap and fun to ride and with no clutch or gears to worry about, a 60 mph top speed and 60-70 mpg fuel economy it is a good thing to have.

So here is my fantasy...some day maybe...before I get too old...

This is a 2003 Suzuki GSX-R 1000 sportbike. It is not to be trifled with or taken for granted. It is fast and light and will make you poop your pants and would be more than happy to kill you. I want one.
One like this was advertised for $4000 in my local Graig's list and it made me drool.
Well, this all depends on who you talk to. Some experienced sport bike riders say that the GSX-R is a pussycat and is an easy bike to ride fast.
Before I get too old, I would like to try one of these machines. I could and probably would ride it to work but I would need to take it to the track to get the true feel of the thing.
I would also invest $1000 in a leather riding suit, boots and gloves. My street helmet should work for track riding. Track day fees are around $200/day.
Motorcycle insurance can be expensive for one of these, but given how little I might be able to pay for one, I may just get basic coverage.
I would like to have a bike like this and a scooter or another bike. Here is a 2005 Honda CBR 1000, which is supposedly even easier to ride and just as fast (there is much debate of performance amongst 1000cc bikes.)

These kinds of sport bikes are called "Liter" bikes because of their one liter displacement.
This Suzuki Bandit 1250 is probably a better choice for someone like me. It is still fast but has a much more comfortable riding position. I could take it to the track as well. Insurance will be less.

This 1999 BMW R110oS is a neat bike. It looks good and is solid, but not even as fast as the Bandit, but it would be nice. It would be an appropriate bike for an architect.
Even this older model would likely cost more than the better performing bikes above.
It is arguably the best looking of the bunch, but these are all works of art in my book.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


This was a quick one inspired by a walk on Bybee Lake.

I wanted to do something a little looser.
I believe that Jen has already claimed it as her own...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More tomorrow

It has been a while since I have posted anything. Work and family stuff has been keeping me busy, but I have been painting.
I managed to get the Casa Di Bambini painting safely off to New Jersey in time for the Montessori school parent tour.

I finished the Civic Stadium Painting, which is shown below. I was not happy with the plain blue sky, so I added some wispy clouds that are actually clouds I saw over the west hill
I still really like the shapes that are happening here and think that they make a nice composition.
This is a 30 x 40 painting and I have already made a frame for it.
I am hoping to enter this painting and two others in the Lake Oswego Center for the Arts Festival. The deadline is March 4th and I have the paintings photographed and need to get the materials in the mail.

My daughter wanted to paint with me and I needed to put a base down for some future paintings.
I still had a bunch of paint left over and noticed a painting of sunflowers that I had set aside (and abused) and decided that it needed a new background. I had fun doing the loose background and I think that the painting sings now.
It is no Van Gogh (see his Sunflowers), but it is pleasant enough.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Degas, you Magnificent Bastard!

Impressionist or Post Impressionist, whatever you may place him, his work is amazing.
I go to used book sales and pick up art books if I can. I saw one on Degas and for $3 figured I couldn't loose.
He was very interested in moments, small and subtle moments of reality.
I love this painting of the horse track. The subject is of the racers sizing each other up before the race. The whole scene glows with an either early morning or late afternoon light. They are probably trotting around on grass and I like how Degas made the choice to make the ground golden instead of green (it may very well have been golden like California gets in the summer).
He took great care in laying out his paintings. In every one you will find no error in perspective or proportion, which is amazing.
I admire his use of contour and color. Some say that many of his paintings are cold and aloof, but this one is warm and expressive.

Montessori Progress

I had a productive Sunday on this one and am almost finished.
I think that the window shutters are too light, even though they are in direct sun. They should be more blue-green and contrast a bit more from the stucco wall.
The curtain in the window is something that I made up. It needs a crisp shadow line to make it believable.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Things in the Basement

It was a wet Portland weekend and I managed to sneak in some painting time.
Saturday I managed to do the layout on canvas for the Casa Di Bambini painting while I "watched" for the kids. My daughter did some drawing with me while I sketched.
Later, during a lull in family activity, I did the under painting for the "Bambini" and set it aside to dry.
At another break, while the kids were watching a movie, I re painted the Civic Stadium painting sky. While I liked the green color, it just wasn't working for me as the sky. I kept looking at it and could not love it. I think that if the whole painting was more abstract, say with a red sky and green stadium, it would have worked as a piece. Now it is a simple blue sky with a bit of the green coming through, which adds a nice depth to it.
I was too spent to take any photos this time.

My studio is in the basement, so that is where the paintings live. I go in to visit them even if I can't do any painting. There is a conversation going on between me and the canvas, trying to decide how they want to be.
When I have more than one painting going at the same time the conversation is even more interesting. I love being surrounded by work in progress.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Casa di Bambini

This is the start of a small commission for a painting of the original Montessori school, started by Maria Montessori, in Rome.
Google Maria Montessori if you want the story on the school.
The patron is an ex-girlfriend from New Jersey who is starting a Montessori school.
She wanted to purchase a painting from the Marysville series that was already purchased, so she came up with an idea to do a painting of the original school.
We pieced together some photos and this is what I came up with. I will use it as a guide, but it is kind of a nice drawing on it's own.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Civic Stadium

Here are a few detail snap shots of the current painting.
It is coming together nicely, but there was something about the orange background that made the painting more powerful.
I do need to try more expressive use of color in future stuff.
I came very close to finishing the painting, but ran out of time and steam for that matter.
I did a bit of editing of the subject for this painting. In actuality, there are tree branches, a bunch of bike racks and the red tent is actually forest green, but none of that was working.

I specifically did not paint in an all blue sky. The green is something that I made up.

I need to do the people, the stadium seating and the fence pickets.

Here is what my palette looks like after a day of painting.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dreams and Revelations

I awoke from a dream last night in a state of profound enlightenment, or so it felt at the time. The dream that I had been having was an elaborate mystery acted out by friends and acquaintances.

This was the first of three dreams that I had.

The next had something to do with art and the third I really can’t remember, but they all seemed to relate and left me lying in a bit of a sweat. This is not the first 3AM revelation that I have had, but it was pretty intense.

As with most dreams they make much less sense now than they did while experiencing the dream. What I do know is that when I woke up for the first dream I had a profound realization that there is so much to explore in life and in art.

Lying awake at 3:00 AM I felt the desire to write a novel, which would be based on friends and acquaintances and would weave a mystery of unexpected twists and turns. The story would take place in the city, perhaps a morphed Portland or other place.

My thought was then that perhaps I should write a new great American novel. I somehow managed to think that somehow I could use my life as the basis for an interesting story that would somehow connect my generation.

Waking from the next dream left images of artwork and an art scene that I am not yet apart of. While creating my own original art work, I managed to create some paintings that copied fragments of other artists work. I don’t know why I was doing this exactly, but it did engender some ideas that have not yet fully formed in my mind.

Architecture, usually urban in nature, is always a part of my dreams. I do get into a lot of detail about what the city around me looks like. Some of it is bright and new and some is old and dark, but there is always a sense that this is the stage set of my life.

I am fully awake now and attempting to solve the problem of water infiltration from below and existing concrete slab. This is not really what I want to be doing with my life. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy being an architect, I do, and I think that it works for me. Having the professional life and the artist life are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, each will enhance the other.

I am tired because I woke up three times last night, but I am left feeling like there are things to do. I don’t feel overwhelmed, just energized.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

I have had a bad cold for the past week, including New Years Eve. It has been making me very tired and I have not had the energy that I usually have to paint, but I did it anyway.
Today was good and I managed to get the layout completed as well as the majority of the under-painting.
I like this scene because of the vertical line of the mast and the curve of the stadium roof.
I also like the sense of scale that you get from the people at the bottom of the frame. The sky is the usual Portland blue, but I am hoping to do something a little different with it.
This painting is 30" x 40" and it is good to be working big again.